The federal government on Friday called the attention of the public to the outbreak of avian influenza (bird flu) in the federal capital territory (FCT) and seven other states in the country.

Gideon Mshelbwala, director of veterinary and pest control services, federal ministry of agriculture and rural development, raised the alarm at a meeting with state commissioners of agriculture in Abuja.

Mshelbwala listed the states affected by the outbreak as Bauchi, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Nasarawa, Plateau and Kaduna, which reported a case in May 30.

He said the disease had spread across 26 states of the federation and the FCT since it started in 2008, affecting 800 farms in at least 123 local government areas.

Mshelbwala, who said that there were no scientifically proven vaccines for bird flu, noted that the federal government had adopted quarantine, movement control, stamping out, decontamination and bio-security measures to curb the spread.

He expressed regret over the poor bio-security practices by some poultry farmers, adding that it was the major reason for the continuous spread of the disease.

Mshelbwala said the federal government had paid over N674 million in compensation to 269 farmers across the affected states.

“Our national action plan encourages proper regulation of the poultry industry and enforcement of annual registration of all actors along the poultry value chain including farmers, traders, egg merchants and feed millers,” Mshelbwala said.

“It also encourages the creation of veterinary extension services to facilitate the control and proper inspection of poultry and poultry products.”

He warned poultry farmers against illegal vaccination of birds, describing such approach as a deadly alternative to the control of the disease.