Livestock Industry Foundation for Africa (LIFA) believes that Nigeria should by now drive a more proactive management approach to the control of Avian Influenza (AI) epizootics. Nigeria is a potentially high-risk target country vulnerable to Avian Influenza outbreak possibly annually or biannually (February-April).
The country is a target hub to three out of the four migratory bird routes from South East Asia which had repeatedly reported consistent epizootics. The Federal Ministry of Agriculture should by now have a revisable AI risk map for all the states in the federation. LIFA believes that more commitment of budget to VOM Research Institute and many Veterinary schools of epidemiology department can syndicate on researching zero epidemiological studies of carrier birds like ducks and the migrating birds who have some resting locations to quantify positive indexes on state level to seropositive cases to AI antigen of either H5NI or H5N8 which have been conclusively identified in Nigeria, Niger and Cameroon.
The initial conservative estimate of market loss to Avian Influenza last estimated by poultry Association of Nigeria was in the magnitude of 14 Billion Naira, while individual farms that suffered millions of market loss within the short duration of outbreaks are found across the nation.
It is evident that the Federal Government of Nigeria can no longer continue her initial program of compensating farmer for the loss of birds in their farms due to AI. Over 3 million commercial birds have been lost to AI and farmers haven’t been totally compensated. The fear of the delay and non-payment of prompt compensation to farmers often resulted in the fear to report this noticeable disease of poultry or engage in panicky sales of unhealthy birds to the public.
A recent outbreak in Kano state has led to culling of 9000 birds as confirmed by the Director in the state’s Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Dr Shehu Bawa on 30th December, 2016. He further encouraged surveillance and disinfection of other farms as the solution to the spread of the disease, consequently urging the federal government to pay outstanding compensations.
The OIE policy declaration of no vaccination had become more proactive by adopting a mixed strategy option for the control of AI epizootiology Eminent Scientists, like Ilara Capua of OIE, believed that reliance only on stamping out and biosecurity is no more a popular option to the management of Avian Influenza epizootics, and concluded that heterologous killed vaccines could be used together with other biosecurity measures to control this disease.
LIFA recommends that government should support a situation study of the disease in Nigeria as suggested earlier. Government must instruct and fund research by VOM and Universities on the suitability of new varieties of vaccines now been successfully used in other Asian countries and some regions in Europe on their immunogenicity and the lesser risk of shedding the vaccines in litter, a situation that may not be possible with killed homologous or heterologous vaccines.
Government should allow the Directorate of Veterinary services to identify any suitable heterologous vaccine from research outcome that must be imported to Nigeria. These approved strains must be the legal strain approved for Nigeria and any other strain becomes illegal for importation. NAFDAC must only approve for importation only, vaccines that meet the prescribed criteria of the ministry of agriculture of the Directorate of Veterinary services.
Our Livestock Opinion Poll on this topic however showcased different opinions and views about Avian Influenza vaccination. The government should summon a wider and larger public stakeholder meeting to better demystify the vaccine challenges and seek possible ways to promote research studies that focus on Avian Influenza.
Download the Livestock opinion poll of respondents here. We also await your own view in the comment box below. LIFA is available for collaboration that focuses on education, research, investigation, capacity building and project restart.