Avian influenza H5N1 detected in poultry in Nigeria, further
human cases reported in Iraq, Indonesia and China
Highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza has been detected
in poultry in northern Nigeria, according to the World Organisation for Animal
Health (OIE) and the World Health Organization (WHO) [1,2].
This poultry outbreak has so far only been confirmed on a large commercial
farm in the northern state of Kaduna, and investigations are urgently needed
to determine whether this outbreak, which began one month ago and has affected
40 000 chickens, has spread to other holdings in the area [3,4]. Poultry deaths
have been reported in the neighbouring state of Kano, but the cause has yet
to be identified.
In Nigeria, as in many parts of Africa, many households keep free-range flocks
of poultry and there is close human contact with the birds. Nigeria also has
an important commercial poultry sector.
Nigeria is known to lie along flight routes of migratory birds from central
Asia, although it is still unclear as to whether the outbreak was triggered
by migratory birds or the trade and movement of poultry and poultry products
Full sequence evaluation of the virus affecting the poultry is expected in
the coming week. This will allow comparison with the H5N1 viruses that have
recently caused human illnesses in other parts of the world, as well as providing
clues as to origin of the H5N1 virus in Nigeria.
Nigerian authorities have started culling birds, and the affected farm is
being disinfected. Animal movement control has been put in place in the country.
The OIE and FAO will send a team of experts to the region to assess the situation
and provide technical assistance 
Human and poultry cases in Iraq
A fatal case of human A/H5N1 infection was confirmed in northern Iraq on 30
January 2006 . As well as this case, two other patients being investigated
for possible A/H5N1 infection have died - one of these patients tested positive
for A/H5N1 in a local laboratory. A further seven patients are currently being
treated in isolation for possible infection. Another possible human case has
been reported in southern Iraq.
Outbreaks of H5N1 in poultry in Iraq were confirmed on 2 February. Intensive
culling of poultry is underway in this northern area, but improved diagnostic
capacity is needed to focus culling efforts. Discussions are underway to set
up a compensation scheme to lessen the hardship of culling on individual households.
A team of international experts, including veterinary expertise, is in the
region to support Iraqi authorities. A list of immediate needs has been drawn
up, which includes antiviral drugs and diagnostic reagents. The team has noted
problems with transporting human samples out of the country for confirmatory
testing, and the urgent need for biosafety improvement in local and national
laboratories. Training is in place to improve the diagnostic capacity and
surveillance abilities of the country’s veterinary laboratories, and to ensure
proper measures for infection control in hospitals.
Further human cases in Indonesia and China
Four human cases of A/H5N1 infection have been recently confirmed by the Indonesian
Ministry of Health . Three victims were all from West Java where a recent
upsurge in virus activity has been recorded. The victims were a nine year
old girl who has recovered and two men aged 15 and 22 who both died. Another
case was recently reported in a five year old boy from Lampung province, who
became ill in October 2005 and has since recovered.
The latest cases bring the total number of confirmed cases in Indonesia to
23, of which 16 have been fatal.
The Chinese Ministry of Health has also just reported the country’s eleventh
laboratory confirmed case. Seven of the confirmed cases in China have been
fatal . The patient is a 26 year old woman from Fujian province, and is
currently being treated in hospital. No poultry outbreaks have been reported
in the area where the patient, a farmer, lives.