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H5N1 Suspected in Niger
February 17, 2006
The death of at least 400 chickens, turkeys and geese in Niger - which shares a 1,500-kilometre border with bird-flu-infected Nigeria - has government officials scurrying to prevent the spread of the deadly virus.
Niger authorities banned the importation of all poultry and poultry products, reinforced border patrols and launched a public awareness campaign, after the H5N1 virus was confirmed in Nigeria. The discovery of the dead birds near the town of Magaria in Niger's southern Zinder region days later prompted the government to reinforce its efforts and ask for international help with testing for the virus.
The above comments suggest H5N1 is also in Niger. The location is close to the Nigerian border (see map), but as additional countries in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa report confirmed cases of H5N1, it is becoming increasingly clear that H5N1 has infected wild birds and poultry along the migratory paths. In addition to neighboring Nigeria, Egypt has now confirmed H5n1 and it is suspected in Mauritania at its border with Senegal. WHO has also expressed concern that Mali, which is between Niger and Mauritania, also has H5N1 infections.
More surveillance in these countries would identify the extent of the infections, but finding H5N1 in these countries is not a surprise.