Nelly Bassily | October 13, 2008
Alphonse Tognizoun is a poultry farmer in Agbata, southern Togo. On September 9, the highly infectious strain of avian flu known as H5N1 was found in his village. Agbata was quarantined. By the end of the month, some 17,000 birds had either died from the flu or been culled. Mr. Tognizoun lost 1,000 birds.This was the latest in a series of avian flu outbreaks in western Africa. H5N1 first arrived in Africa in early 2006, when it was found in Nigeria. It has since been detected in Benin and Egypt, as well as Togo. This strain of avian flu is a serious concern because it can be passed from birds to humans. To date, over 240 people around the world have died from the disease.
Basic hygiene can help stop the spread of avian flu. Farmers should keep their poultry in fenced areas and wash their hands and boots after they visit the chicken coop. They should carefully control access to their poultry coops. Children should not be allowed to play with the birds and other poultry farmers should not visit the coop.
The UN Food and Agriculture Organization provides plain-language advice on preventing the spread of avian flu in the following: http://www.fao.org/docs/eims/upload/207623/FAO_HPAI_messages.pdf.