I've said before that H5N1 does not exist in a vacuum, separate from all the other troubling and worrisome things and that occasional large scale disaster. H5N1 in Nigeria is yet another example. A country that has more than its fair share of corruption and greed, it is also struggling with being rich in oil.
By Dulue Mbachu
July 28 (Bloomberg) -- Nigeria, Africa's most-populous nation, reported new outbreaks of bird flu in two of its northern states, the World Organization for Animal Health said.
Both cases, confirmed to be the H5N1 strain of avian influenza, occurred in ``backyard poultry'' in Kano and Katsina states, the organization said a statement posted on its Web site on July 25.
By Andrew Walker
BBC News, Port Harcourt
An effort by the Nigerian government to bring peace to the oil-rich Niger Delta region hangs in the balance before it has even begun.
Corrupt politicians and military officers use armed militants to steal oil and protect their lucrative positions in government.
"Most of what is going on here is sheer criminality," says Anyakwee Nsirimovu, a human rights activist based in Port Harcourt.
"Maybe one day there will be a line drawn between who is a real fighter for the Niger Delta cause and who is not, but what we see on a daily basis is people killing civilians and pocketing money."
Without things like reliable power supplies, transport infrastructure and employment, people will remain dependent on the patronage of corrupt leaders and will be unable to speak out against them, he says.
"Not many people can speak the way I do, because they are afraid. Plenty of people spoke out in the day and were killed at night."
He says the government's intention to get militants to put their arms out of use is "absolute nonsense".
An interesting post on the "Nigerian background noise" from Greg Laden's Blog
At this point, in Nigeria, we may be at a tipping point of sorts. With increased international attention focused on oil exploitation, and a long period of time over which the same disgustingly corrupt system has been in place, the Nigerian situation appears to be heating up.
Over the last few days, there have been a number of incidents (see below) indicating a notable escalation. Militant leaders are now vowing that a major action will take place soon, possibly this weekend. Security warnings are going out to ex-patriots in the region. Expect the ongoing, in the background events that never boil to the top of the US news ticker to emerge on the front page any time over the next few days.
Although H5N1 in domestic poultry is old news and news we tend to not treat as news any longer, when you tack it onto corruption and chaos it might just be newsworthy. If not newsworthy, at least a brief pause for that "oh crap" moment, in homage to the potential danger from stuff we have become inured to reading.