Bird Flu Update

H5N1 Avian flu in chickens has been confirmed in 8 States in Nigeria. No bird flu has been confirmed south of the Benue and Niger rivers. A report from Kwara is under investigation.

Yesterday 6 dead, and several ill vultures were found on the PHC golf course. Today one dead vulture has been found on a patio in the Shell RA. Shell Health Services are working with local agencies to have these tested for Avian Flu.

The primary purpose of testing these animals is to help with the surveillance efforts of H5N1 as it impacts Nigeria. We will revert once their H5N1 test results are available. Shell’s response and your safety precautions will not change if this is H5N1 or another disease of vultures. For information, a dead bird found recently on Bonny golf course did not die of flu and no human cases of H5N1 have been found in Nigeria.

It is important to put the human risk into perspective. H5N1 is still a disease of birds. The human form of disease caused by H5N1 has occurred in a small percentage of poultry handlers who have significant contact with infected chickens or to inhalation or ingestion of their infected faeces. There are presently approximately 1400 known infective agents that can cross from animals to humans. H5N1 is a member of that group, but is a low risk virus.

Even if infected with H5N1, these dead or sick vultures do not pose a risk to human health except by direct contact or inhalation of their bodily secretions or faeces. If you played golf yesterday and saw the vultures, this does not pose a health risk. From a medical viewpoint, the golf course can be reopened. Playing golf does not pose a risk of H5N1 if you follow the simple precautions below;

1. Do not handle dead birds
2. Wash hands thoroughly after touching any animals (live or dead), before eating and after visiting the toilet
3. Particularly in the case of large birds such as vultures, do not approach them as they will inflict serious wounds.

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