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Home Eurosurveillance Weekly Release  2006: Volume 11/ Issue 6 Article 1
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Eurosurveillance, Volume 11, Issue 6, 09 February 2006

Citation style for this article: Editorial team. Avian influenza H5N1 detected in poultry in Nigeria, further human cases reported in Iraq, Indonesia and China. Euro Surveill. 2006;11(6):pii=2894. Available online:

Avian influenza H5N1 detected in poultry in Nigeria, further human cases reported in Iraq, Indonesia and China

Editorial team (, Eurosurveillance editorial office

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 [4,5].

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 [2]

Human and poultry cases in Iraq
A fatal case of human A/H5N1 infection was confirmed in northern Iraq on 30 January 2006 [6]. 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 [7]. 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 [8]. 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.

  1. WHO Epidemic and Pandemic Alert and Response. Avian influenza – situation (birds) in Nigeria. 8 February 2006. (
  2. OIE. Avian influenza outbreak in Nigeria. 8 February 2006. (
  3. OIE. Immediate Notification or Follow-up report of a disease, Infection or other significant epidemiological event. 8 February 2006. (
  4. FAO. High bird flu risk in Africa after outbreak in Nigeria. 8 February 2006. (
  5. Wetlands International. Bird flu outbreak in Nigeria not likely caused by wild birds. Press release. 8 February 2006 (
  6. WHO Epidemic and Pandemic Alert and Response. Avian influenza – situation in Iraq – update 2. Disease Outbreak News. 7 February 2006. (
  7. WHO Epidemic and Pandemic Alert and Response. Avian influenza – situation in Indonesia – update 2. 6 February 2006 (
  8. WHO Epidemic and Pandemic Alert and Response. Avian influenza – situation in China – update 3. 9 February 2006 (

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