Community awareness of bird flu and the practice of backyard poultry in a North-Central State of Nigeria


Introduction. The practice of backyard poultry is a very common practice in many homes in Nigeria. Birds raised at home are usually free ranged, which increases close contact between man and birds, thus increasing the risk of transmission of avian influenza virus to man. This study investigated the awareness of bird flu infection and identifies risk factors associated with the practice of backyard/free ranged poultry among the residents of a state in Northern Nigeria. Methods. This cross-sectional study was carried out in Kwara State using 130 wards selected through cluster sampling technique. Households in each ward were sampled through systematic random sampling technique using the primary health care house numbering register. Semi-structured questionnaire was used to generate relevant information through interview and 650 participants consented and were used for the study. Results. Most of the respondents 604 (92.9%) kept birds in their homes and one-third 204 (33.8%) of this group knew that infection from birds can be transmitted to man. However, less than a third186 (30.8%) of those who keep birds were aware of avian influenza (AI) infection. Out of the 186 respondents, 78 (41.9%) had experienced massive bird deaths in the preceding year prior to the interview. Less than half 81 (43.5%) were willing to report AI or massive deaths occurring in flocks of their birds to designated officers / authority. During outbreaks with massive deaths in birds some of the respondents sold infected live birds 45 (57.7%), few slaughtered and dressed the birds before sale 11 (14.1%), while some slaughtered and consumed the birds in their families 19 (24.4%). Conclusion. The practice of backyard poultry is very high with little knowledge and awareness of mechanism and risk of infection associated with it. This was also reflected in their attitude towards reporting of outbreaks in birds. Public awareness campaign and home visit by environmental and veterinary officers are important strategies that can prevent AI infection transmission among domestic birds and man.