Dr Mathias Kojo Ayensu, Northern Regional Veterinary Officer, has urged the media and other stakeholders to create public awareness, to reduce health risks of large outbreak of highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza in birds.
“An immediate priority is to half further spread of epidemics in poultry populations to reduce opportunities for human exposure to the virus.” He said
Dr. Ayensu made the call during a stakeholders’ meeting organized by the National Disaster Management Organization (NADMO) in Tamale, to discuss the possible ways of preventing and containing the outbreak of bird influenza from spreading to the region.
He said the vaccination of persons at high risk of exposure to infected poultry, using existing vaccines effective against currently circulating human influenza strains, could reduce the risk that genes would be exchanged.
He said workers involved in the culling of poultry flocks should be protected by proper clothing and equipment, against the infection of the disease, adding that farmers should also receive antiviral drugs as a prophylactic measure, to reduce likelihood that the deadly disease strain would emerge.
He stated that a person affected by the disease would have some developed symptoms of fever, sore throat and cough, severe respiratory distress secondary to viral pneumonia (in fatal cases), should report to the nearest hospital for medical treatment.
Dr Ayensu mentioned some of the dos and don’ts, and said no person should touch any dead bird, such as domestic or wild with bare hands.
He said farmers should also prevent other animals, such as cats, dogs, vultures and crows, from getting access to the dead birds.
Dr. Ayensu advised farmers to report all flu symptoms of birds to the veterinary.
He said the government had package for farmers, who would be affected by the disease.
He explained that Bird flu or avian influenza was an infectious disease of birds caused by type A strains of the influenza virus which could also infect pigs and humans.
He noted that the infected birds could show various symptoms, ranging from mild illness to a highly contagious and rapidly fatal disease.
“It show various symptoms like the low virulent form might lead to ruffle feathers, soft shelled eggs, drop in egg production and may go away unnoticed”.
“However, the “highly pathogenic avian influenza” or the highly virulent form is characterized by sudden onset, severe illness, affecting multiple internal organs and rapid death, with a mortality that can approach 100 percent,” he added GNA