Emergencies preparedness, response

Avian influenza - situation in Nigeria - update

3 February 2007

The government of Nigeria has announced today the presence of A/H5N1 avian influenza virus in a 22-year-old deceased female from Lagos. The initial positive test findings from a laboratory in Nigeria were confirmed by the WHO Collaborating Centre for Reference and Research on Influenza in London (see previous report). Further investigations are under way to identify the source of her infection.

All samples from contacts of the deceased have tested negative by the WHO Collaborating Centre.

H5N1 virus has been identified in poultry outbreaks in Nigeria and similar to other affected countries, sporadic cases of human infection with avian influenza are not unexpected. WHO is working with the government of Nigeria to carry out intensive surveillance and reports of additional suspected cases may occur as people with influenza-like symptoms seek medical advice.

The H5N1 avian influenza virus is not transmitted to humans through properly prepared and cooked food. Cases of human infection with H5N1 have frequently been linked to the home slaughter and subsequent handling of diseased or dead birds prior to cooking. These practices represent the highest risk to human infection and are the most important to avoid. When handling raw poultry or live or dead birds, it is imperative to disinfect hands and surfaces with soap and water. Consumers also need to be sure that during the cooking process, poultry reaches temperatures of at least 70°C in all parts and that eggs are fully cooked throughout. Detailed recommendations concerning food safety are available here.