8th Mar, 2006 - LAGOS: Commissioner for Agriculture and Cooperative, Asipa Kaoli Olusanya, has reassured Lagosians that there are no reported cases of bird flu in the State.
He disclosed that the state government has investigated all the rumours surrounding purported outbreak of the H5N1 strain of the avian influenza (bird flu) in Lagos. He added that up till now, no case of the flu has been confirmed in the state.
The commissioner gave the assurance on Tuesday at a seminar on Bird Flu (Avian Influenza): Outbreak Management and Food Safety organised by the Nigerian Veterinary Medical Association (NVMA), Lagos State chapter in Agege, Lagos.
Olusanya emphasised that nobody can contract the flu from properly boiled chicken and eggs. He said the flu has so far been reported in eight Northern states.
He disclosed that an official of the United States Embassy told him a few hours earlier that bird flu has been confirmed in Anambra State.
The emergence of the disease in a state like Lagos, he pointed out, where chicken is a popular source of animal protein, has serious socio-economic implications not only for poultry but also for feed mill business, agricultural crops, job security and lower protein intake of the citizen, particularly children.
The commissioner called on farmers to ensure that they register their farms so that government can have accurate statistics on the number of birds in their farms in case of eventuality and benefits, which could flow from government to farmers from time to time.
In his opening address, Chairman of NVMA, Dr Owolana Oluwatoyin Olusola, said investigation of the noise on the bird flu revealed the causative agent as “Grant” Flu than the virus. “If there were functional veterinary structures in place in Lagos State with enough manpower the carpet would not have been swept off our feet by the opportunists,” he said.
Olusola observed that the situation has nevertheless sensitised professionals to the need for strategic planning. While arguing that the flu has threatened the means of livelihood of farmers, he warned that unless a framework is put in place to combat future eventualities, the disaster might be so great that most professionals and stakeholders would quit their profession.
Besides, he pointed out that unless something is done to address the paucity of veterinary doctors in the state civil service concerning inspection of slaughtered livestock for human consumption, the nation would remain prone to deadly diseases.