CAMEROON: Bird Flu confirmed in fourth African country

Yaounde, 13 March 2006 (IRIN) - Tests on a dead duck from a small village in the far north of Cameroon confirmed the country’s first case of the deadly H5N1 virus, said a government statement released on Sunday.

"Bird flu has been detected in Cameroon. A duck was detected positive with bird flu among 10 birds which died recently in Maroua," said the statement read on state radio and television. Officials said the birds died between 12 and 21 February.

Speaking to reporters on Sunday, Cameroon's Minister of Livestock, Fisheries and Animal Industries Aboubakary Sarki said that all foul in the three poultry farms where the birds died had been slaughtered.

Cameroon shares a 1,600-kilometre border with Nigeria, in early February the first country in Africa to register a case of the deadly H5N1 bird flu virus. By late February authorities had confirmed bird flu in Egypt in northern Africa and in Niger, which also borders Nigeria.

The government of Cameroon promised “to take care of” affected poultry farmers, though it did not give any figures. Sarki said that the government will also carry out a culling and vaccination programme and that some 700 veterinarians are being trained to fight the virus.

"We envisage slaughtering and destroying all birds from the infected region of the country, but we also aim to vaccinate chickens nationwide to prevent the H5N1 virus from spreading," Sarki told reporters.

However, Sarki said the government did not have a store of vaccinations at the ready and would have to rely on donor contributions in order to buy them.

State-run Cameroon Radio-Television (CRTV) reported on Monday that poultry farmers and chicken vendors across the north of the country were confused about what to do with their stock. Some vendors have begun slaughtering their chickens and other livestock to sell it for meat, the CRTV report said.

The bird flu outbreak in Africa has dealt a serious blow to the poultry industry in northern Cameroon where many people have stopped eating chicken and the price of meat and fish has shot up, said the report.

The H5N1 strain of bird flu can pass to humans from animals and has killed nearly 100 people worldwide since the virus re-emerged in 2003, according to the World Health Organisation. Experts are concerned that the disease could mutate and spread between humans causing a global pandemic that could kill millions.

Theme (s): Economy, Flu, Food Security, Health & Nutrition,


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