Nigeria reports bird flu outbreak

A "highly pathogenic" strain of the H5N1 bird flu virus has been found in poultry stocks in Nigeria, the first reported case of the disease in Africa, the Paris-based World Organization for Animal Health said Wednesday.

Nigeria on Wednesday reported the outbreak among commercial, battery-cage poultry in Jaji, a village in the northern Kaduna state, according to the organization known by the acronym OIE.

They were the first cases of H5N1 reported in Africa, OIE spokeswoman Maria Zampaglione said.

A laboratory in Padova, Italy, identified "a highly pathogenic H5N1 and has further analyzed its genetic composition. Investigations are being carried out in order to define the degree of genetic homology with the currently known H5N1 strains," the statement said.

Nigerian authorities disinfected the farm and introduced quarantine measures and controls on the movement of animals.

The OIE said it was working with U.N.'s Food and Agriculture Organization to "coordinate a common response to this event."

"A team of experts will be sent to the affected area in order to assess the situation and provide technical advice," it said, reports the AP.

I.L.