The National Veterinary Research Institute (NVRI), Vom, Jos, has declared that sustained active and very rigorous surveillance is the only solution to the menace of bird flu.

NVRI Executive Director Ahmad Mohammed made the declaration in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Jos on Tuesday.

"We must be proactive and look for the disease; we should not wait until it hits us before we start scampering for solutions.

"Unless we embark on very vigorous surveillance that will involve getting random samples from supposedly healthy birds and those suspected to be affected, we shall continue to live with the disease,’’ he said.

Mohammed said that more than 1.4 million birds were destroyed to stem the disease following its resurgence in 18 states early this year.

He said the action appeared to have ended the flu in May, until it was discovered again in Abia and Enugu in August 2015.

According to him, it is the first time birds in the two eastern states died with the disease, raising the number of affected states to 20.

"There is a technical committee to advice government on the disease and NVRI is a member of that committee.

"The committee has always done its part and it is left for the authorities to take the right steps to rid Nigeria of this situation,'' he told NAN.

Mohammed, however, said that such surveillance was usually expensive as samples had to be stored in ultra-low deep freezers of 80 centigrade.

"NVRI has to put the samples in such very low altitude and diagnose.

"The surveillance also involves lots of movement and steady activity, but that is inevitable and a worthy sacrifice to keep our poultry healthy,'' he said.

He denied allegation that samples were delayed at NVRI, saying that results of tested samples were convey to Abuja for onward communication to the affected states.

"One report said that a state was still waiting for results of diagnoses we conducted on 3,100 chickens which is funny, because you cannot bring such huge figure for us as samples to be tested.''

Mohammed advised poultry farmers to be careful when purchasing chicks, pointing out that most cases result from purchasing the birds from points of lay.

He advised them to patronise big farms in the western part of the country, noting that farmers there were usually very alert and take the health of their chicks seriously.

The NVRI boss also advised against cluster farms, saying that the disease spread very fast if the farms were concentrated around the same vicinity.