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Bird Flu Outbreak: World Bank To Assist Gov’t Compensate Poultry Farmers 

By Nformi Sonde KinsaiElisabeth Huybens and Dr. Taiga after audience

The Yaounde-based World Bank Group Country Director for Angola, Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, and Sao Tomé & Principe, Elisabeth Huybens, has declared the Bank’s willingness to assist the Government of Cameroon in the compensation of poultry farmers who have lost stock as a result of the recent outbreak of bird flu.

Huybens made the declaration in Yaounde on June 23 shortly after an audience granted her by the Minister of Livestock, Fisheries and Animal Industries, MINEPIA, Dr. Taiga.
In a statement to the press, the World Bank Country Director disclosed that her visit was in relation to the outbreak of the bird flu that was reported last May 24.

“In regards to the avian flu, the World Bank has a global expertise on how to combat the disease. So, we came to discuss with the Minister and indicate our readiness to support Government in the management of the crisis.

“There are many ways we can support by financing urgent equipment for the Government, we can help by communicating to farmers and the population in general and if Government is considering compensation to farmers who have lost their stock, we can help with that too. So, we are ready to collaborate with Government in coordination with FAO and Center for Disease Control in order to address this crisis in the livestock sector,” Huybens maintained.

Preceding the audience with the World Bank official, Dr. Taiga granted a press conference during which he presented Cameroon’s poultry sector where the traditional method of rearing constitutes 70 percent as compared to the semi modern and industrial method.

He disclosed that the sector has about 45 million fowls in stock with an annual production capacity of day-old chicks estimated at 20 million. He remarked that current production stands at about 10 million. Meanwhile, the production of eggs is estimated at 13,000 tons per year. According to him, the objective is to produce some 26,000 tons of eggs by 2020. The sector currently provides 14 percent of animal protein needs.

Insisting that press men and women need to know what avian flu is, its mode of transmission and the health risk to animals and man, the Minister defined the disease remarking that it has three types classified under classes A, B and C.

“Types B and C affects only man while type A affects birds, horses, pigs, dogs, other animals as well as man,” he stated. He talked of the haemagglutinin (H16) and neuraminidase (N1) viruses which combine and mutate to H1N1 right up to H2N9.

Dr. Taiga said the disease, which is very virulent, could be transmitted by migratory birds and has an incubation period of three to five days. He remarked that when the fowls are infected, the death toll could attain 90 to 100 percent. He mentioned the economic impact of avian flu marked by loss of confidence by the consumers and enormous expenditure to combat the disease. The risk to man includes the mutation of the virus and transmission. It is a threat to biodiversity for it can eliminate plant and animal species.

On transmission, he said all species of birds both wild and domestic could be affected. The Minister talked of direct transmission which entails inhaling infected particles, contact with respiratory secretions and excreta of infected birds. Indirect transmission is caused by migratory birds, contaminated food, [unsterilised] materials and dresses.

According to Dr. Taiga, the avian influenza doesn’t affect man except in cases where the virus is highly pathogenous marked by a very close, frequent and intense contact with the respiratory secretions of the infected birds. He told the press that there are international norms recognised by the scientific community which must be scrupulously followed to eradicate the disease for Cameroon to be declared bird flu-free.

Meanwhile, in a joint press release of June 22 signed by Dr. Taiga and his counterpart of Public Health, André Mama Fouda, it was recalled that the avian influenza virus H5N1 was declared at the Mvog-Betsi Poultry Farming Complex in Yaounde on May 24, 2016.

It notes that following national health surveillance and epidemiological investigations carried out by officials of MINEPIA, secondary outbreaks were reported in Mvila Division (South Region); Koung-Khi and Mifi Divisions (West Region) and in Djerem Division (Adamawa Regions).
The duo stated that, so far, some 54,000 fowls have been slaughtered, denatured and buried in the affected poultry farms.

“Decontamination and hygiene measures have been applied in these sources of infection. The different zones concerned are monitored daily. Teams of the Ministry of Public Health have followed-up 474 exposed persons and no case of human influenza from avian origin has been detected. The overall assessment presents a situation under control,” the release stated.

Both Ministers hailed the inter-ministerial cooperation as well as friendly countries, international organisations and stakeholders in the poultry sector for their support and active participation in the fight against the disease.

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