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Bird flu confirmed in Niger, third African country hit

[Iraq] Ducks in northern Iraq are also said to be carrying the bird flu virus. [Date picture taken: February 2006]
Le virus de la grippe aviaire a été détecté au Niger chez des canards domestiques (Afif Sarhan/IRIN)

Tests have confirmed that the highly pathogenic H5N1 virus is present in Niger, the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) said on Monday.

OIE spokeswoman Maria Zampaglione told IRIN that the Paris-based organisation’s laboratory in Padua, Italy, had confirmed H5N1 in samples from Niger.

“The virus was present in domestic ducks. The samples concern two centres in Niger, one at Magaria very close to the border with Nigeria, and the other at San Barde.”

Niger, one of the world’s poorest nations, shares a 1,500-kilometre border with Nigeria, where bird flu was confirmed on 8 February, the first African country hit. Cases have been detected in eight of the nation’s states, and the virus has been found in Egypt.

“It’s not a surprise given that ever since the infections in Nigeria we warned its neighbours to step up surveillance and control because we were expecting this,” she said. Zampaglione added that the OIE was awaiting further information from Niamey on the number and size of the farms where the dead birds were found.

Shortly after the discovery of bird flu in Nigeria, authorities in Niger reported the deaths of migratory birds and poultry and sent samples to the OIE’s European laboratory. On Monday, there was no immediate comment available from the Niger government.

Niger banned poultry imports from countries infected with H5N1 late last year but slapped a total ban on all imported poultry products days after news of the virus hitting Nigeria. Two weeks ago, Niger’s committee against avian influenza called a 2.2 billion CFA franc (US $3.9 million) emergency prevention programme.

This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions

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