Highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) was confirmed in Nigeria in January this year, the first occurrence of the disease since the epidemic of 2006-2008.
It has already spread to over nine percent of government areas. At least 400 enterprises, including farms and markets have been affected.
Nigeria is major egg producer and the fourth largest broiler producer in the region, and although the government has responded to the disease by implementing quarantine, culling and offering compensation, the disease continues to spread.
The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) notes that traditional trading patterns, both formal and informal, between Nigeria and its neighbors, provide an opportunity for cross-border or inter-regional disease spread. Currently, the countries at immediate risk are Benin, Cameroon, Chad, Ghana, the Niger and Togo, but other countries are also at risk, and the FAO has advised that they should prepare for disease incursions.
It adds that the virus, similar to recent isolates found in Bulgaria, India and Vietnam, is expected to spread more widely in Nigeria and may affect a high proportion of poultry production unless effective biosecurity measures are introduced.