26 February 2006

Nigeria and Avian Flu - An Update

Our chicken is dead!

I got home on Friday and inquired about the chicken, and was informed of its necessary demise. Apparently Princess was sufficiently panicked when she kept hearing about Bird Flu on the news. She put on her kitchen gloves, stuffed the poor bird in a paper bag and threw it on the nearest rubbish heap. She proceeded to use 3 bottles of Izal to disinfect the back yard, and hasn’t been there since (she did this 2 weeks ago). Struggling to keep a straight face, I asked why she didn’t just slaughter the bird and cook it; she gave me a really nasty look was I unaware that by killing and cooking the bird, if it was infected I was increasing the points of failure? I then point out that she ought to have ensured the bird was dead and properly incinerated. She gives me another nasty look and informs me with her best school teacher voice (she is actually a school teacher) that she waited for the bird to die by suffocation before throwing it on to a burning heap of rubbish. I then inquire about the kitchen gloves and she looks ready to explode! I burst into laughter and give her a hug; Princess is very cute when she angry!

I had discussed the whole H5N1 wahala with a friend’s husband who is a vet doctor, and poultry farmer last weekend, you know how far had it spread, were we at risk in the south, etc. First of all he is of the opinion that H5N1 came into Nigeria via the importation of infected birds from probably Asia. He is fairly certain that it didn’t get here via migratory birds. He is also fairly certain it won’t get to the south because poultry moves from the South to the North and not the other way round. Okay so if H5N1 got here via the importation of infected birds, assuming they came by air, wouldn’t that mean they came in through Lagos? I forget there is an international airport in Kano! It could have come by sea though. He is of the opinion that the infected birds where probably of the exotic kind, e.g. Peacocks, and you really don’t want to transport a bird for too long, else it would die. So I am wondering what the people at the points of entry were looking at when avian cargo arrived in Nigeria from Asia, probably their feet. I am also not too sure that H5N1 won’t spread from the North to the South. First off, the government isn’t giving poultry farmers enough of an incentive to report infected birds. To acquire, and rear a bird to maturity will cost about N 650, the government is offering N 250 as compensation per bird. As a poultry farmer, it pays me better to either sell my live chicken for say N500, than report any cases of dead/dying birds to the authorities, that way I don’t make too much of a loss. And you know somebody somewhere is just waiting to profit from this type of ‘awoof’ (freebee).

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