Avian flu hits another African nation

April 4, 2006 (CIDRAP News) – The H5N1 virus has sneaked across another border, making Burkina Faso the fifth African nation to lose poultry to the virus.

H5N1 cases have been found on a "camp site" at Gampela, in the Saaba department of Kadiogo province, according to a report Burkina Faso officials filed with the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE). The site is about 6 miles from Ouagadougou, the capital. The report said 123 helmeted guinea fowl died. The cause was confirmed as H5N1 by an OIE reference laboratory in Padova, Italy.

The Burkina Faso minister of animal resources, Toemoko Konate, announced the outbreak in a radio address yesterday that was reported by the United Nations Integrated Regional Information Network (IRIN) today.

The small African nation is not prepared to cope with avian flu, international experts warned. Burkina Faso has about 32 million poultry, with 76% of them raised traditionally, IRIN reported.

"Burkina is one of those countries that have particularly weak infrastructure," said Maria Zampaglione, spokeswoman for the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), as quoted in the IRIN story. It ranks as the world's third poorest country in the UN Human Development index in 2005, the story noted.

The country is also battling a meningitis outbreak, which has killed more than 750 people this year, IRIN added.

The OIE and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) will send a joint mission to the country to advise leaders there how to respond.

Cameroon, Egypt, Niger, and Nigeria are the other African countries reporting poultry outbreaks to date.

Meanwhile, Pakistan today issued a follow-up report that details two new avian flu outbreaks on commercial poultry farms, one in Charsada, North West Frontier Province, and another in Abbottabad, in the same province. More than 3,000 cases occurred, leading to the slaughter of more than 26,000 birds at the two farms, the report said. The H5N1 virus was first detected in Pakistan in late February.

See also:

Burkina Faso's report to the OIE
http://www.oie.int/downld/AVIAN%20INFLUENZA/A2006_AI.php

OIE follow-up report from Pakistan
http://www.oie.int/downld/AVIAN%20INFLUENZA/Pakistan_AI_04_04_2006.pdf

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