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Benin confirms outbreak of highly contagious avian flu

By Nneka Nwogwugwu

The Republic of Benin has identified an outbreak of the highly contagious H5N1 avian flu in two districts near the capital Porto Novo, the agriculture ministry says.

On Wednesday, Benin became the latest West African country to declare an avian flu outbreak, after Ivory Coast identified the disease last week near its commercial capital Abidjan.

Cases have also been detected this year in Ghana, Togo, Niger, Burkina Faso, Nigeria, Mauritania and Senegal, Reuters reports.

Laboratory testing conducted last week showed that several recent bird fatalities in Benin’s southern Seme-Podji and Abomey Calavi districts were associated with positive H5N1 cases, the agriculture ministry said in a statement.

Benin is now waiting for those results to be confirmed by a laboratory in Italy, the statement said.

“To date, the situation at infected farms is under control and measures are being taken to determine the extent of any spread,” it said.

It called on those working in the poultry sector to strengthen biosecurity measures and report any suspected cases to the ministry.

H5N1, which was first detected in 1996 among geese in China, has since been detected in more than 50 countries in Africa, Asia and Europe. It can occasionally spread to humans, although no community spread of the virus among humans has been detected.

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