The US has announced a donation of US$25 million to help Nigeria combat the bird flu, which was discovered in a commercial farm in the northern state of Kaduna Wednesday, according to the deputy chief of mission of the US Embassy in Nigeria, Thomas Furey.
Lagos, Nigeria, 02/11 - The US has announced a donation of US$25 million to help Nigeria combat the bird flu, which was discovered in a commercial farm in the northern state of Kaduna Wednesday, according to the deputy chief of mission of the US Embassy in Nigeria, Thomas Furey.
Furey, who led a US delegation to the Minister of Agriculture, Adamu Bello, in Abuja on Thursday, said in addition to the donation being made through the USAID, the US was also offering technical assistance and 2,000 protective suits to be used in the affected areas.
The offer came as the avian flu has reportedly spread to four farms in three states in northern Nigeria, including Plateau and Kano states, where a total of three poultry farms have been cordoned off.
At least 45,000 birds have been culled at the Sambawa farms in Kaduna, where the pathogenic strain (HN51) of the deadly avian flu was discovered by an FAO referral laboratory in Italy earlier in the week.
Thousands of chickens in other affected farms are also to be slaughtered as part of government measures to halt the spread of the flu.
In the meantime, Health Minister Eyitayo Lambo has denied reports that the virus had infected humans in Nigeria.
In a statement, the Minister said Nigeria had yet to record any case of the avian influenza in humans.
"Although this signifies the first reported case of the H5N1 in Africa, I wish to state, for the avoidance of doubt, that no human infection has been established here in Nigeria so far," the Minister said.
He said, however, that the ministry was "instituting surveillance among the human population living around the affected areas"
Two children who took ill on their father`s poultry farm in Kaduna are feared to have contacted the virus, but no conclusive tests have been carried out on them.
In Kaduna, where the flu was discovered, the state government has ordered all poultry workers in the neighbourhood of the Sambawa farms, owned by Sports Minister Saidu Sambawa, to be subjected to immediate medical tests.
State governor Ahmed Makarfi also ordered all hospitals and health clinics in the state to be on an emergency alert.
The discovery of the avian flu in Nigeria has also set off panic among the population, forcing several state governments to take pre-emptive measures.
The government of Lagos state, which is home to more than 15 million people, has dedicated two hospitals to deal with bird flu cases, in addition to training its health workers to increase surveillance alertness.
The hospitals are the Mainland hospital, Yaba, and the general hospital, Badagry.
"Because Lagos is a populous state, wrong information could spread fast with damaging consequences," the permanent secretary in the state`s ministry of health, Jide Idris, said.
In a related development, the Poultry Association of Nigeria (PAN) is collaborating with other agencies to monitor the outbreak of bird flu in the country, according to its president, Tunde Badmus.
The federal government has identified migratory birds from China, Europe and Latin America as well as importation of infected birds as possible causes of the spread of the virus to Nigeria.
The FAO has dispatched experts to Nigeria to assist the country in containing the spread of the virus, which has so far killed 88 humans and caused the slaughter of 140 million birds worldwide.
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