Veterinary Services call for collaboration to fight bird flu in Ghana

Poultry2The Veterinary Services Department of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, has called for relevant stakeholders’ collaboration to combat the spread of bird flu (Avian Influenza) in the country.

So far, 102,760 birds had been infected and destroyed in the country since the outbreak of the disease in 2007, which had been reported in Greater Accra, Central, Western, Brong Ahafo and Ashanti regions.

Dr Paul Nomuka Polkuu, a Deputy Director of the Veterinary Services Department (VSD), said at a stakeholders’ meeting in Sekondi that the spread of the viral disease could negatively impact local and global economies and affect international trade.

He, therefore, entreated traditional leaders, assembly members, religious bodies and the media to join forces to educate the public on preventive measures to curb its widespread.

Dr Polkuu, who is with the Epidemiology Unit of the VSD, said any country that continued to record bird flu among its poultry population risked being banned by the World Health Organisation and Food and Agriculture Organisation from exporting poultry products to the international market.

He, therefore, called on poultry farmers to promptly report symptoms of the viral disease in their poultry farms to the VSD for laboratory test.

Avian Influenza, commonly called bird flu, is an infectious viral disease of birds which could spread widely within 48 hours resulting in mass deaths of birds such as chicken, ducks, turkey and guinea fowls.

The virus is mostly spread by infected wild birds during seasonal movements, eating infected poultry products as well as getting into contact with infected poultry and importation of poultry products and feed from infected countries.

The disease could also be transmitted among humans with common symptoms such as severe headache, and throat and joint pains, which could result in death.

Dr Polkuu mentioned some common symptoms of the viral disease in birds as sudden and unexpected deaths of poultry in large numbers, pink coloured legs, swollen combs and wattles, ruffled feathers and watery droppings.

Alhaji Abubakar Sufyan, a Public Health Officer at the Health Promotion Unit of the Ghana Health Service, said effective risk communication aided in preventing the widespread of the disease.

He advocated the need for the establishment of social mobilisation committees across metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies to create awareness about the disease, saying; “disaster prevention starts when there is no disaster”.

The programme was jointly organised by the VSD, the Ghana Health Service and the National Disaster Management Organisation and supported by the United States Agency for International Development.

It provided a platform to share information on the Situational Report of Avian Influenza outbreak in the country, undertake risk communication and social mobilisation training, and raise awareness on the disease to enable the citizenry to understand its implications and be conscious of its existence.

Source: GNA

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