The National Veterinary Research Institute in Vom, Plateau State said on Tuesday that new cases of bird flu have been discovered in Abia and Enugu States.
Dr. Mohammed Ahmed, the Executive Director of the institute, told the News Agency of Nigeria in Jos on Tuesday that it was the first time the flu was found in the two eastern states.
Ahmed said: “The last cases we stamped out in May, after destroying more than 1.4 million birds, affected only 18 states.
“Now the two states have come down with the disease and brought the total to 20 states.”
He said the new cases had been traced to the purchase of birds in Ibadan, Oyo State at the “point of lay” by some poultry farmers in the two states.
He added: “Unfortunately, the young birds came down with the disease, which means that we have not been enforcing the restriction in movement that is a key step in controlling disease.”
While advising farmers to be more proactive, Ahmed said the purchase of birds at the point of lay was “certainly not the best” because farmers would not know how the birds were raised.
He said that purchasing of birds at the point of lay was mostly done by “lazy” farmers, adding that the attitude was “very dangerous, deadly and costly”.
He therefore advised farmers to always patronise well established farms that have massive hatcheries and were meticulous on biosecurity.
He said: “The small poultry farms do not take biosecurity seriously.
“But the big farms have massive investments and do not play with the safety of their birds.”
Ahmed also suggested a division of labour among poultry farmers that would enable some to specialise in feed mills, while others devote themselves to hatchery, point of lay and point of cage.
He said: “When that is done, we shall minimise the current tendency to pounce into all aspects that had consistently proved hazardous.”
The executive director called for intensive surveillance by stakeholders in states to curtail outbreak of the bird flu.
“The only way we can contain the flu totally is by consistent surveillance. We must always pick samples from affected areas and areas not affected,” he said.
The NVRI boss said the national technical committee on bird flu had suggested to the Federal Government the establishment of an active surveillance unit and was still waiting for response.
He said: “Once we receive the response and the go ahead, we shall start the active surveillance and I am sure that we shall then be able to check the spread of the flu.”
Ahmed said the institute was also working to protect the nation’s birds from newcastle and gumboro diseases.
“The newcastle disease affects younger birds, while the gumboro disease affects the older ones, but we are working to ensure none affects us,” he said.
He cautioned poultry farmers against cluster farms, saying that they would record massive casualty if the disease affects any of the farms.
“The cluster farms situation is particularly bad in Plateau and Kano and we have tried to discourage farmers from it because it is dangerous,” he said.
He also spoke on the payment of compensations to owners of farms, whose birds were destroyed, saying that the exercise was in progress.
He said: “The compensation has been spread into batches; batches 1, 2 and 3 have been paid. The others have been verified and payment will resume soon.”