Results from initial tests on chickens that mysteriously died in northern Nigeria show no sign of bird flu, but further tests are being carried out, officials said Monday.
Salihu Jibrin of the Agriculture Ministry said results from one in a series of tests on dead chickens in Kano State have "so far not shown any sign of the avian flu." He said tests from other samples are ongoing.
Health officials fear a deadly bird flu virus could enter impoverished, loosely governed African regions where many people raise chickens at home for personal consumption. There have been no cases of bird flu documented in West Africa.
Nigerian authorities urged farmers to monitor their flocks and report strange ailments to authorities. Kano state set up a committee of veterinary surgeons to visit farms and watch out for evidence of a bird flu outbreak.
Bird flu began ravaging poultry stocks across Asia in 2003, forcing the slaughter of 140 million birds and jumping to humans, killing dozens. It has since spread to Europe and the Middle East.
Experts are particularly concerned about a strain of bird flu known as H5N1, fearing it could mutate into a form spread easily among humans, triggering a pandemic capable of killing millions, reports the AP.
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