Health Menu

Sponsored Links


Nigeria tests another 11 human samples for bird flu

ABUJA (AFP) - Health officials in Nigeria, which this week announced its first human death from bird flu, have said they were testing 11 fresh human samples gathered from the nation's economic capital Lagos.

"The new samples have links with the initial 14 which we have tested. Some of them have interaction with the deceased," the director of public health of the federal health ministry, Abdullahi Nasidi, told AFP.

Nigeria's first bird-flu fatality was a 22-year-old woman who died on January 17 in Lagos, the biggest urban metropolis in Africa, after helping pluck and disembowel a chicken her family bought.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) said Friday in Geneva that it hoped to have results within days from tests on samples from the woman who is believed to have died from bird flu.

Preliminary tests have shown that the woman was positive for H5 type influenza A, WHO spokesman Dick Thompson said Friday.

He said a WHO-approved laboratory in Britain was testing to see if the 'N1' component was present, which would confirm Nigeria's first human case of the most virulent strain of bird flu, H5N1.

"We're not contradicting what the Nigerian ministry of health said, but for us it's important to have the test results," the spokesman told AFP.

"It's possible we could get the results today, they could be delayed for a couple of days," he added, while also raising the possibility that the samples might be flawed and could not yield a result.

The Nigerian government has said it would reinforce surveillance measures with a particular emphasis on monitoring human contact with poultry flocks.

Information Minister Frank Nweke promised to step up controls on hospitals, including private ones, and urged the population to alert the authorities to any fowl presenting symptoms of bird flu.

Radio and television stations across the country have this week mounted sensitisation blitz as part of government measures to curb the spread of the disease, residents said.

Health officials are also telling the population to eat only well-cooked poultry meat and eggs, even though none of the 160 deaths from bird flu worldwide has been traced to the consumption of meat from an infected fowl.

Authorities in Lagos said that around 700,000 birds have been culled since the disease was found in the city last year.

A government hospital has been especially dedicated for the treatment of those infected, Lagos health ministry permanent secretary Jide Idris said in a televised interview.

Three neighbouring countries -- Benin, Niger and Cameroon -- have said they are stepping up border controls.