Bird flu spreading across West Africa, human spillover feared

2015-07-20 13:56

(Shutterstock)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Rome - A highly contagious strain of avian flu is spreading across West Africa, decimating poultry farms and stoking fears the virus will jump from birds to humans, the UN's food agency warned on Monday.

Markets and farms in Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Niger, Ivory Coast and Ghana have been hit with the deadly H5N1 virus over the past six months, the UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) said.

If the virus continues to spread, it could affect more than 330 million people across West Africa, hurting food security and human health in a region still recovering from the Ebola crisis.

"Urgent action is needed to strengthen veterinary investigation and reporting systems... to tackle the disease at the root, before there is a spillover to humans," Juan Lubroth, head of the FAO's animal health division, said in a statement.

In Nigeria alone, 1.6 million birds have been killed by the virus or culled to stop its spread since last year, the FAO said, damaging the economy and robbing citizens of a relatively cheap source of protein.

Poultry production

H5N1 bird flu first infected humans in 1997 in Hong Kong. It has since spread from Asia to Europe and Africa and has become entrenched in poultry in some countries, causing millions of poultry infections and several hundred human deaths.

Other West African countries including Benin, Cameroon, Mali and Togo have not identified bird flu cases and need to continue monitoring the situation to help prevent its spread, the FAO said.

Local veterinary officials have been urged by the UN to try to trace where infected animals were sold to find sources of the outbreak in order to halt its spread.

Poultry production has grown rapidly across West Africa in the past decade, the Ivory Coast alone has seen output expand by more than 60%, but regulatory systems haven't kept pace, the FAO said.

The organisation is asking donors for $20m to respond to the avian flu outbreak and to help prevent its spread.

Read more on:    fao  |  un  |  ivory coast  |  burkina faso  |  ghana  |  niger  |  nigeria  |  west africa

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.