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Fear as bird flu spreads to Kano, Kaduna, Benue

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CASES of human avian influenza H5N1 (also called bird flu) recently reported in some parts of Nigeria have spread to Kano, Kaduna and Benue States with fear of similar infections, placing Plateau, Bauchi, Gombe, Nasarawa and four other states on red alert.

  Director General of Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, disclosed this in Abuja, while giving highlights of the epidemiological situation and response activities in Nigeria.

  According to Ihekweazu, a total of seven states have reported outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) cases (H5N1) in poultry.

  He said official notification of the outbreak had been conveyed to World Health Organisation (WHO) as required by the International Health Regulations (IHR).

  Also, the national multi-agency cholera Technical Working Group (TWG) at NCDC is monitoring situation in eight states where there are reports of suspected cholera cases.

  Dr. Ihekweazu gave the figure yesterday in Abuja while giving an update of cholera cases in the country.

According to him, Benue, Delta, Zamfara, Gombe, Bayelsa, Kogi, Sokoto and Nasarawa States have also reported suspected cholera cases.

  “As of March 28, a total of 1,746 suspected cases, including 50 deaths with a Case Fatality Rate (CFR), that is 2.9 per cent, have been reported from Benue, Delta, Zamfara, Gombe, Bayelsa, Kogi, Sokoto and Nasarawa States. Of the confirmed cases, 63.2 per cent were aged five to 14 years. Also, of the suspected cases, 48 per cent were females and 52 per cent were males. The director general said there had been a gradual increase in the number of new cases in the last two weeks. Zamfara State accounts for about 100 per cent of cases reported in the last two weeks. A total of 75 samples were collected out of which 49 tested positive. The Test Positivity Rate (TPR) for laboratory confirmation by culture is 14.7 per cent,” he said.

  Dr. Ihekweazu also said that most people infected with cholera do not develop any symptoms, although the bacteria are present in their feaces for one to 10 days after infection and are shed back into the environment, potentially infecting other people.

  Experts say that avian influenza has strains of the influenza virus that primarily infects birds but can also infect humans. But this type of flu is most often contracted by contact with sick birds, and can also be passed from person to person. It spreads by airborne respiratory droplets (coughs or sneezes). Symptoms begin within two to eight days, and are like the common flu. Cough, fever, sore throat, muscle aches, headache and shortness of breath may occur.

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