The Rivers State Government on Tuesday confirmed the outbreak of avian influenza popularly known as bird flu in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital.
The state government’s confirmation is coming barely five days after the Federal Ministry of Agriculture announced an unusually high mortality in two poultry farms and live bird markets in Kano and Lagos States.
State Commissioner for Agriculture, Mr. Emma Chinda, who confirmed the development in Port Harcourt, explained that samples, which were taken from a Port Harcourt poultry farm for a laboratory test outside Rivers proved the existence of bird flu.
Explaining that no human infection had been recorded so far, Chinda disclosed that the private firm had since been quarantined and decontaminated after hundreds of birds affected by the disease were killed.
The commissioner, who said that samples were taken to the Veterinary Research Institute in Plateau State, pointed out that the State Ministry of Agriculture got a report suggesting that a farm might have been infected by the avian influenza. “On January 14, (2015), we got a report from a farm that was worrisome. The report we got suggested that the farm may have been infected by the highly pathogenic avian influenza.
“Unfortunately, the result came out on January 17 (2015) and it read positive of highly pathogenic avian influenza. On the basis of that, we had to take necessary steps.
“Apart from quarantining the farm, we had to depopulate (eliminate) the birds in the farm to stop further spread. Thereafter, we decontaminated the farm,” Chinda narrated.
Calling on members of the public not to panic, the state agric commissioner, pointed out that government was containing the outbreak with its officials and experts on the ground to monitor the situation and stop the spread.
Chinda, however, appealed to members of the public to make sure that their poultry animals, including eggs must be thoroughly boiled before consumption.
He recalled that the Federal Ministry of Agriculture had reported the outbreak of avian influenza in Kano State and in a bird market in Lagos State.
The commissioner explained that since the outbreak of the disease in Lagos and Kano, the state had been on alert and ready to handle the situation.