FG Rejects Calls For Vaccination Against Bird Flu

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The federal government remain resolute in upholding its no vaccination policy against bird flu in Nigeria but reaffirms its commitment to eradicating the virus.

Known as Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI), the contagious viral disease spread from Europe to Africa, according to a National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) report. Although first recorded in Nigeria in 2006, it has resurfaced several times over the years.

Its recent resurgence has sparked a call for vaccination, which goes against the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development policy. “After due consideration of scientific and socio-economic evidence available to the committee on merits and demerits of vaccination on no vaccination, the committee recommends that the country should stick to the ‘No Vaccination’ policy for now,” Minister Mohammad Abubakar said.

As explained by Director of Veterinary and Pest Control Service, Dr Columba Vakura, vaccination is a cumbersome process. Usually, it takes more than one vaccine to protect birds. Since there are other measures to control the virus, the ministry opts to go that route.

What measures are in place to control bird flu in Nigeria?

Nigeria’s agriculture authority employs biosecurity measures like depopulation, decontamination, and control of movement to keep bird flu in check. Since 2017, data showed that farmers have lost over 3.4 million birds to infections and control measures.

There no data yet on how many birds have been lost during the 2023 outbreak. Although, the outcry of stakeholders point at the number being high. And more are set to be lost to control measures too.

In his address, Abubakar revealed that the affected birds were concentrated in the west. With the rains coming and flooding expected, poultry farmers are in for a rough ride. But it may provide relief from viral infections.

Nigeria is not facing the avian flu issue alone. In Europe, several countries were also suffering from similar problems. Although, the season trend, according to World Organisation for Animal Health (WOAH), shows that infection rates are expected to drop after April and stay low until the end of September. The UK government is relaxing its lockdown measures this month end.

Obinna Onwuasoanya
Obinna Onwuasoanya
Obinna Onwuasoanya is a tech reporter of over five years, fiction writer, SEO expert and an editor. He is based in Lagos, Nigeria, and was previously shortlisted for the Writivism Short Story Prize 2018.

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