Avian influenza cases have been growing in western Africa, and the chief veterinary officer of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) says the cases being seen now are only the “tip of the iceberg.”
“I have sufficient information to be worried and insufficient information to be at ease,” the FAO’s Dr. Juan Lubroth told IRIN.
Highly pathogenic H1N1 avian influenza has not been in the region since 2008, and in some countries, it has not been present since 2006. So far in 2015, the virus has been detected in numerous African countries, including Nigeria, Niger, Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso and Ghana.
FAO in April had warned that the outbreak, which originated in Nigeria, had the potential to spread into other countries. At that time, it had not yet been confirmed in Niger or Ghana. FAO also cited Benin, Cameroon, Chad and Togo as countries at risk.
In Nigeria alone, there have been 30 cases of avian influenza confirmed by the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), affecting nearly 65,000 birds. OIE has also reported five cases of avian influenza in Ghana since June 1, affecting 4,669 birds.
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