Niger confirms bird flu outbreak in poultry

Chickens are seen in a contaminate farm while workers from the Animal Protection Ministry prepare to cull them to contain an outbreak of bird flu, at a farm in the village of Modeste, Ivory Coast, August 14, 2015. REUTERS/Luc Gnago

PARIS (Reuters) - Niger has reported an outbreak of the highly pathogenic H5N1 bird flu virus among poultry, the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) said on Friday, as the disease continues to hit flocks across West Africa.

Niger’s veterinary services submitted a notification to the OIE on Thursday after the outbreak was confirmed at the end of May, the Paris-based OIE said in a statement.

The outbreak, which killed all 86,000 poultry birds at the affected site, started in late February, and followed a previous outbreak in the country last year, the OIE said.

H5N1 avian influenza, or bird flu, has spread across a number of West African countries in the past two years, hitting poultry farms.

Cameroon last week reported an outbreak of the H5N1 virus that killed several thousand birds a poultry breeding center in the capital Yaounde.

On Friday, the authorities in Cameroon’s western region said in a statement they had banned the transport of chickens after over 1,500 chickens died at a farm in Bayangam.

The series of outbreaks in West Africa has raised fears of transmission to humans, given a number of human deaths since the H5N1 virus first infected humans in 1997 during a poultry outbreak in Hong Kong.

The H5N1 virus is also one of two bird flu types to have infected flocks in parts of France since last year. This led the country to impose a freeze on duck and geese breeding in affected zones earlier this year to stamp out the disease and protect its large foie gras industry.

Reporting by Gus Trompiz, additional reporting by Sylvain Andzongo in Yaounde; editing by Susan Thomas and David Evans