Chickens in north Nigeria with H5N1

  • This topic is empty.
Viewing 15 posts - 1 through 15 (of 32 total)
  • Author
  • #3294

    Chickens in farms in north Nigeria just tested positive for H5N1. Wild birds likely to get blame for spreading H5N1 to Nigeria. No matter that Nigeria not a (major) destination for ducks from areas hit with H5N1 before autumn. Smuggling of poultry should be investigated here.

    High duties create an incentive to avoid tariff payments. Common illicit practices include under-invoicing, "round-tripping" foreign exchange, and smuggling… When the level of illicit, undocumented imports for particular products such as frozen chicken exceed that of legal imports, (this before Nigeria banned chicken imports; demand for chickens may be higher since, encouraging smuggling if so)

    Infected chickens in battery cages; so surely unlikely to have contact with outside world, inc wild birds.

    Thousands of bird deaths have also been reported in Kano state, which borders Kaduna. The federal ministries of health and agriculture have not provided information on how many birds have died or in which areas exactly. In Kano city, poultry farmers were trying to sell chickens at less than half the normal price, including from farms where birds have been dying. "I am confused. I lost 10 birds yesterday on my little farm and I cannot afford to lose more, so I came to the market to dispose of many of my birds at these ridiculous prices," said Ismail Musa. – so, again, might cheap chickens have been smuggled into Nigeria?


    For my further reading and personal edification..,

    Where can one find concise, accurate descriptions of known migratory bird flight paths?

    I agree that there needs to be more intelligent discussion of how migratory birds might be contributing to this epidemic. Just a blanket pronouncement that wild birds to blame is not enough.

    I’d also think that poultry, zoo, fighting, or pet bird trade might not answer the whole question.

    There logically seems to be so many paths for a virus to move that it looks very difficult to isolate the truth form the conjecture. It would be interesting to follow the lineage of one strain of virus along it’s path from some obscure farm in China to a like farm in Nigeria.., How many chicken sneezes, fecal boot contaminations, wild bird peckings, flying hours, etc., etc., are involved.

    Nigeria is a bit off the beaten path, but there are those who state that it may be, or is on migratory flight paths. Just say I’m from missouri and I need to see for myself..,




    There are no ready sources that I know of (asked this question by science journalist yesterday; he’s looked at some migration routes etc, but likewise found no ideal source of info). I earlier gave partial answer re flyways in email to same journo, which I posted to thread at: Migration Flyways V briefly here (I’ll add a bit more to that thread):

    Nigeria is on migration flight paths, but for birds from Europe – ie west of areas known to have H5N1 before birds migrate. Few areas of land on the planet are not on flight paths. You live in the US, so you are on or near flight paths (with higher densities over Missouri than over many places). Wild birds likely migrate right over your house. But you’re not on flight paths of birds from areas known to have H5N1


    email from Nial Moores of Birds Korea:

    Species like Garganey can switch wintering areas from India to eastern Africa dependent on wetland availability, according to Bird families of the World. However, as Martin suggests most logical is that Garganey from western Europe migrate to western Africa, leaving Europe in ca October and returning in late March.

    Is this correct: this latest outbreak is in western Africa in mid-winter, months after wild birds from western Europe (a region without H5N1) migrated there; in chicken battery farms. Those suggesting wild birds are at the cause of spread should first identify (with supporting data) which species were responsible (birds from affected regions like Turkey???, arriving in Nigeria in late January as virus so virulent: which species? None); explain why outbreaks in wild birds have not been detected there (possible?); and explain the exact mechanism how wild birds came to infect poultry (possible?).

    Concentrations of poultry and caged birds, time and time again, have been shown to be the viral factories for H5N1,and Nigeria has been ramping up its poultry production with the aim of becoming a net exporter. At least as late as 2002, local producers were worried about the amount of illegal poultry imports/trade (see URL below).

    Large-scale concentrations of poultry often lead to environmental contamination (run off and manure heaps), and provide the only logical hypothesis for infection of non-migratory scavenging wild birds. Is it supposed to be more rational that wild ducks somehow fly into the chicken pens, excrete there without being noticed so that they infect the poor poultry, and then fly off again?

    In 35 years of birding I have seen one wild duck in a free-range chicken pen once – on an offshore island in Korea where there was no other duck habitat, not near some wetland where there would be plenty of natural food available for wetland species without the risk of being hunted by people. It does just not make common sense, and is not supported by any evidence – so why even start to make such an assumption before considering movement of poultry first, caged bird trade second.

    Need to repeat too, sadly how can anyone ever anywhere disprove it was wild birds? There are migratory birds in most nations; with birds moving at all times of the year. Therefore people who want to believe that spread into Africa (or elsewhere) of H5N1 was by wild birds will easily find something to convince themselves – whatever evidence is provided to the contrary or not.

    It therefore seems more than a little time-wasting to repeatedly provide detailed information each time to such persons and then to have such advice pretty much ignored, the original story written, original line taken, even sometimes with the comment that bird conservationists are too defensive to see the truth. This is a large part of what has been so disappointing and frustrating about this whole saga.

    Please, show me the asymptomatic Garganey with HPAI H5N1 in Nigeria; show me other infected Garganey elsewhere; show me Garganey having contact with chickens, and then I promise I will invest the time looking for data on Garganey movements for you. Otherwise, best to look at poultry and caged bird trade first –
    General note on trade:
    Google search using words Nigeria poultry Import
    which talks of illegal imports.

    China and Nigeria have many trade links and recently boosted trade initiatives. Nigeria has trade with many other nations etc etc. Eliminate those, then lets talk about the hypothetical role of wild birds in spread to Africa.


    As I mentioned in my post to your “Migration routes” thread, time would be required to mingle the infected populations

    It seems like the amount of time necessary would be on the order of years. I.e., several migration cycles to allow the intermingling needed.

    It would seem that poultry smuggling could be more at fault. Poultry or pet birds?




    Hi Neil:

    Well, we’re in realm of guesswork I think – Nigerian outbreak is new.

    But I suspect poultry; Nigeria clamped down on poultry imports to guard against H5N1 and, ironically, perhaps so boosted demand for smuggled birds.
    (This outbreak on battery farm; if they couldn’t supply all demand, maybe turned to outside source.)

    More info needed.
    But for spread to nw China, thence across Russia to e Europe, I’m more confident re poultry trade/smuggling (even Moscow Zoo’s chief vet said he thought smuggling).


    Feb. 10 (Bloomberg) — Nigeria blamed smugglers for bird-flu infections that have spread to at least four farms, as authorities in Greece and Bulgaria probe possible outbreaks of the lethal H5N1 virus strain, the first in the European Union.

    The “activities of illegal importers and smugglers of pets and birds” brought the virus to Nigeria, Agriculture Minister Adamu Bello said yesterday as the virus was found on three more farms. The World Organization for Animal Health said migratory birds most likely introduced the disease, which killed 40,000 fowl in an initial outbreak in Nigeria that began a month ago.


    We need your expertise in this matter at our new bulletin board:


    Rather odd situation, with Deborah MacKenzie of New Scientist – now gungh-ho re blaming wild birds for spreading H5N1 it seems (see also thread New Scientist dodgy re H5N1 spread to Europe – has confidently written of wild ducks carrying H5N1 to Nigeria, even though (as yet) not one wild bird in Africa has tested positive for H5N1.

    Nial Moores of Birds Korea sent Deborah an email, questioning this; cc’d me, and Deborah has replied, likewise including me among recipients. Interesting email from her – indeed plausible that ducks from H5N1 hit areas in summer may have arrived in Nigeria for winter.

    But, well, here’s email I’ve sent her:

    Thanks for the email; glad you are willing to look at this in some detail. However, your argument is not solid. And, curiously, you ignore the absence of H5N1 across a swathe of land, from Iran east to Japan, where most of north Asia’s waterbirds winter, yet there are no outbreaks in migratory wetland birds. Hong Kong is a notable site here: has some 50,000 waterbirds, including pintail (garganey pass through on migration): not one healthy wild bird has tested positive, among over 16,000 [by some reports; PNAS for some reason gives 13,000 I think, without re-checking.] Currently getting H5N1 in birds, inc poultry; maybe after higher poultry demand at Chinese New Year; and mentioning this, seen report that Nigerian smuggling can increase around Hajj. Hong Kong is at a crossroads for migrants in southern China, right at the epicentre of H5N1 outbreaks. Had H5N1 in birds, inc two urban parks (ornamental waterfowl, at least 2 wild little egrets, which likely residents). So, blithely ignoring not easy. Further, PNAS paper is overall strongly counter to ideas wild birds spread H5N1. Witness regional forms of H5N1: if wild birds could indeed carry and introduce to poultry (and do so readily), why do we see these? It seems curious logic to say poultry trade spreads over short distances, but wild birds over long range.

    There is long distance trade, inc smuggling – cf large batch of smuggled poultry from China arriving in Italy. "one detects the presence of the virus chiefly because it causes outbreaks in poultry if the wild birds contact them" – wild birds contact poultry? Where? [maybe it does happen in Nigeria – but people hunt waterbirds there, so might figure wild birds avoid humans as much as possible] "The ducks themselves, at least those that made it through migration, dont die of it, so you wont see it that way." – questionable; are ducks that die of it, plus can get significant death rates – very high in Qinghai – in birds sharing wetlands with them. "A very low prevalence of sampling, if there is even that, cannot prove absence," No need for sampling at Qinghai – the virus made its presence very clearly known. Elsewhere, it is scarce or rare in wild; get some die-offs but need monitoring to find them.. "Flu is highly contagious. It spreads from bird to bird." Ah, now here’s an important one. You refer to "flu" – and make this rather casual statement. Regular wild bird flus do indeed seem highly contagious, among waterbirds (with caveats; seasonal changes, can get variations depending on bird type). But, evidence is that H5N1 in wild birds is not highly contagious. Qinghai the exception. But otherwise, we don’t see H5N1 readily spreading among wild birds. Hong Kong again – has had dead waterbirds found at/near wetland with the waterbirds, but no spread. (Just lately, a dead little egret a few km from Deep Bay.) Mongolia’s Erkhel – "the disease appeared self-limiting in wild birds", researchers had to look hard to find it., and then o only in dead birds Thailand openbill storks – only few amongst large numbers of birds Romania: infected swans on ponds did not infect other waterbirds sharing ponds (this by lack of deaths, also as several of these birds tested)

    Romanian swans excreting low amounts of virus. Webster’s ducks with H5N1 that didn’t readily kill them likewise excreted low amounts; High amounts respiratory tracts – but ducks not prone to sneezing/French kissing.

    "Selling their birds off at market is what they are reportedly doing even now." – so, do you think others with infected birds, or near infected birds, might have sold them off at markets? To people from non-infected areas. Nigeria had banned poultry imports; yet domestic demand surely still there. Surely tempting to smuggle in birds at bargain prices.

    "especially the Z genotype that has been responsible for virtually all commercial poultry outbreaks in east Asia" – This is the Z genotype. One of its variants, but it’s Z. " birds at Poyang Lake in southeast China in March, some of which migrated to Qinghai." – Which ones migrated this way? I know of none that migrate Poyang to Qinghai. I’ve studied some of the Poyang winter birds on migration along east coast of China (can be certain re Siberian cranes) – a long way from Qinghai. [I’ve asked Guan Yi and Robert Webster just which species they say migrated; so far, just told "migratory ducks". Detail is important with virology; also important here re wild birds.]

    "timing of the outbreaks in Siberia, Turkey, the Black Sea and Nigeria exactly fit the known movements of some species" Not so with the timing of the outbreaks in Siberia. Link from Qinghai to Siberia doesn’t work: especially timing, in July, when birds from Qinghai not migrating north [many of geese flightless at this time]

    "They are kicking birds around because they are rural people, that is how that culture treats animals," – how astonishingly patronising. I have seen rural people interacting with wild birds; maybe hunt n trap and so on, but never this. New Scientist not read there, perhaps, but New Sci taken as authoritative, reaches newspapers and other media

    "Were there geese, which do die of this virus, at Poyang as there were at Qinghai?" – Yes, many thousands, including much of world population of swan goose. Also geese, cranes etc. All sharing shallow wetlands, at high densities.

    "the Poyang and Qinghai viruses differ from any that have ever been seen in poultry in China." By no means all poultry in China have been tested. Witness PNAS – north China, inc between Poyang and Qinghai, just a blank on the map. I’ve asked Guan Yi; they lack data. So, you are only making guesses re virus in poultry n China. The team found 4 distinct forms in mainland China (seen Guan mention 250 strains); how to be certain a form in north isn’t as per Qinghai?

    "The commercial transport of poultry should transport genotypes pretty much at random – smugglers dont genotype infected birds before they ship" – Why at random? If birds from n China to Russia/Kazakhstan, and then onwards by transport links such as railway – and the timings indeed fit this pattern too – would be same strain.

    "the only spread long distance so far has coincided with migratory pathways, " Not so; has been spread to Indonesia, Tibet (one case traced to poultry shipped 1500km, Lanzhou to Lhasa), more recently the spread to Russia and so on. Again, it baffles me why this notion re long distance spread by wild birds, short distance within poultry trade. This is not borne out by bulk of PNAS paper – notice re an introduction to Vietnam, evidently by transport from China. But, convenient for officials. [cf with foot n mouth; reached continent from UK – but there, no flying cows as convenient scapegoats]


    from Richard Thomas of Birdlife International:

    1) I believe I’m correct that one of the two dead ducks with H5N1 in Turkey was a Pintail.

    2) Regarding the Nigerian outbreak: the commercial poultry farm where the disease was first reported is some 150 km from the (can’t recall spelling!) Hadeja-xxx wetlands. Between the two places are flu-free farms.

    Testing of wild birds for H5N1 at the wetlands took place last October – all with negative results. BirdLife has a local NGO Partner in Nigeria who monitor the wetlands and they have seen no die-offs of wild birds.

    3) We have been told that prior to the 2004 import ban on poultry imports to Nigeria, Day-Old-Chicks arrived by air at Kanu. The Agriculture Minister, Adamu Bello, said at a press conference a day or two ago that illegal imports from China, Turkey and elsewhere arrive daily in the country.

    4) The Nigerian outbreak, whilst disasterous for Nigeria and its people, is the best opportunity the world has yet had for identifying the vector by which the disease is being moved around the world. It would be an international tragedy if a thorough and balanced investigation of all possible vectors was not carried out as a matter of extreme urgency; the opportunity must not be wasted. Already we have seen FAO and WHO leaning towards wild birds as the cause, but this doesn’t appear to be the most plausible explanation.

    Cheikh Sadibou Fall, co-ordinator of the national anti-bird flu committee in Senegal, mainland Africa’s most westerly country, said they were on the alert. "We will study the cases to see whether migratory birds will spread the virus, and take appropriate measures … for the time being, we are on alert against any suspect cases of dead birds,"he said. Celia Abolnik, a senior researcher at South Africa’s Onderstepoort Veterinary Institute, said the institute was expecting samples for testing soon from live waterfowl in Malawi, Sudan and Kenya.

    – "take appropriate measures" ? I’m afraid that seems rather sinister to me. So, hope wild bird tests prove negative – but with all the poultry infections in Nigeria, will surely be infected wild birds around. While in Nigeria:

    Market sellers in northern Nigeria are doing a roaring trade in chickens which died from a mystery infection, despite fears of a deadly strain of bird flu, traders said on Wednesday.

    When H5N1 reached Russia, I posted on a forum notions re H5N1 infections in and near a poultry area (in northwest China? – for instance, northern Xinjiang which had big outbreak in farm geese) might lead to fall in prices, and perhaps then trade of birds to areas that had no bird flu. I was ridiculed for this. And yet, still seems plausible to me. Infections in an area, prices fall; traders/farmers still want to sell birds – especially if compensation inadequate, and fear having flocks destroyed – and so birds sold on, moving H5N1 along trade routes. If so, maybe not too ridiculous to suggest that places that had seemed far from H5N1 might not have been over concerned about it. Webster et al in PNAS found that apparently healthy chickens could be infected – maybe as protected by another flu form, maybe as poor vaccines used. [What of vaccines; are they also smuggled? – been smuggled to Thailand, but I don’t know re to Russia, Europe, even Nigeria]



    HALF OF 2005

    NOVEMBER 18, 2005

    “Other factors were the official initiatives, including the Special Programme on Food Security (SPFS), jointly implemented with the Food and
    Agricultural Organization (FAO); subsidy on fertilizer and zero tariffs on imported agro-chemicals; and the tightening of controls on illegal import of agricultural products, for example, poultry products and rice.”


    I was intrigued by the comments from Bird Life International – Nigeria would be one of the worst places in the world to try to establish the origin of the virus. There are too many potential pathways of introduction to be sure of the origin and the late recognition of the disease in poultry complicates this further.

    I must admit I am finding the whole argument re role of wild birds a bit tedious.

    There is now a strain of H5N1 virus capable of infecting poultry and a range of wild birds that has spread across Eurasia and extended to Africa. The relative contribution of wild birds and trade in the movement of this virus is almost irrelevant because precautions will have to be taken to prevent contact between both populations of birds through enhanced biosecurity. If contact cannot be avoided (as with scavenging chickens) then the only option is to use vaccination as a barrier to infection. Imperfect? Yes but the best available short of eliminating this sector vital to the economic well being of the rural poor.

    Virus transfer in both directions between poultry and wild birds can occur and any control program that does not recognise the potential risks from both sectors will fail.


    Les Sims


    It’s tedious to have to keep repeating arguments re wild birds not being major carriers of H5N1;

    Tedious to continually find wild birds blamed, invariably with scant evidence (as yet, not one H5N1 positive wild bird in Africa);

    Tedious that even when a paper shows poultry trade is by far most important for sustaining and spreading H5N1, it’s taken as evidence wild birds are important vectors;

    Tedious that for many officials, wild birds are so quickly and readily blamed (round up all the usual suspects).

    And yet, it’s important as there are conservation implications, in turn with implications for people.

    For to some officials, it now appears “biosecurity” should involve clearing/culling wild birds, by straightforward hunting, as well as deterring breeding, even draining wetlands. (Mao tried wiping out “sparrows” in China as they were supposedly pests; proved a major blunder.)

    Unnecessary fear has been stirred far too widely.

    So yes, it’s tedious, it’s frustrating.
    But those wild birds were not responsible for creating the strains of H5N1, yet directly and indirectly wild birds can become victims;
    wild birds have no voice of their own. (Nor any huge, powerful lobby group behind them.)


    Post edited by: martin, at: 2006/02/13 01:03

    Nigeria is not a gigantic poultry producer. Nigeria’s poultry industry is very low. Until recently, 80 per cent of the chicken we ate in Nigeria were imported. It is now we are just beginning to build up, even then, we are still far away from where we are supposed to get to.
    Lately, we had a problem of lack of parent stock, therefore, we do not have enough hatchable eggs for our poultry. Last Christmas, there was a huge shortage of chicken in Nigeria. Although, we are very good eaters, we are not producers.

    Nigeria’s not prepared for a bird flu pandemic —Emmanuel Ijewere

    “If it’s not wild birds, it will be difficult to understand,” Domenech [of FAO] said. “There is no real trade between the Middle East and Asia and Nigeria.”,0,7038039.story?coll=la-news-a_section


    China and Nigeria have signed a series of agreements on trade, economic and technical cooperation, as well as on promotion and protection of mutual investment and so on.

    During 1999 to 2004, bilateral trade volume has increased remarkably from US$ 578 million to US$ 1.5 billion (till Sep. 2004). China’s main exports to Nigeria are light-industrial, mechanical, and electrical products, and its imports from Nigeria are oil products, timber and agricultural products among others.

    Up to now, more than 67 Chinese company invested into Nigeria in the area of telecommunication, civil engineering project, steel & power, motorcycle assembling and fishing etc, with an outstanding investment amount of US$ 88.6 million. Apart from the above, the coming cooperation in oil exploration and exploitation will attract around US$ 1 billion into Nigeria. There are still more investment projects under negotiation.

    Regarding Civil Engineering Contract Project, more than 15 Chinese corporations are engaged in around 50 projects with a total amount of US$ 1.5 billion.

    From 2002, Chinese government has provided RMB111.4 million gratuitous assistance to Nigeria including rural water supply project, anti-malaria drugs and other relief goods. Under TCDC training course, more than 200 Nigerian have been trained in China on several subjects. In accordance with the Agreement between FAO, Nigerian and Chinese Government, 391 Chinese agriculture experts are serving in Nigeria now.

    Couldn’t readily find re Nigeria-Turkey trade links, say; but still – makes me wonder if Joseph D is so authoritative here.

    Post edited by: martin, at: 2006/02/13 09:41

Viewing 15 posts - 1 through 15 (of 32 total)
  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.