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Health authorities in Nigeria testing 14 human samples for bird flu

Health authorities in Nigeria testing 14 human samples for bird flu

Health authorities in Nigeria are testing samples taken from 14 people to determine whether they've been infected with bird flu, officials said Monday.
Abdullahi Nasidi, director of public health in Nigeria's Health Ministry, said the samples were taken from people living in Lagos, Nigeria's biggest city of 14 million people. He had no further details.
An outbreak of H5N1 bird flu hit Nigeria last year, but no human infections have been reported in Africa's most-populous nation. In Africa, only Egypt has confirmed infections among people. Eleven people have died there.
The bird flu virus remains hard for humans to catch, but international experts fear H5N1 may mutate into a form that could spread easily among humans and possibly kill millions.
Amid a new outbreak reported in recent weeks in Nigeria's north, hundreds of kilometers (miles) away from Lagos, health workers have begun a cull, the Interior Ministry said.
Bird flu is generally not harmful to humans, but the H5N1 virus has claimed at least 157 lives worldwide since it began ravaging Asian poultry farms in late 2003, according to the World Health Organization.
The H5N1 strain had been confirmed in 15 of Nigeria's 36 states.
By September, when the last known case of the virus was found in poultry in a farm near Nigeria's biggest city of Lagos, 915,650 birds had been slaughtered nationwide by government veterinary teams under a scheme in which the owners were promised compensation.
Since bird flu cases were first discovered in Nigeria last year, Cameroon, Niger, Ivory Coast and Burkina Faso have also reported the H5N1 strain of bird flu in birds. There are fears that it has spread even further than is known in Africa because monitoring is difficult on a poor continent with weak infrastructure.
With sub-Saharan Africa bearing the brunt of the AIDS epidemic, there is concern that millions of people with suppressed immune systems will be particularly vulnerable, especially in rural areas with little access to health facilities. Many people keep chickens for food, even in densely populated urban areas.


Updated : 2020-12-05 13:50 GMT+08:00