Ghana adopts tough measures to contain bird flu

Government has placed a ban on the importation of poultry from within and outside the West African sub-region to avert the spread of the bird flu outbreak in the country.

It has also prohibited the hawking of poultry in the country.

Dr Hannah Bissiw, Deputy Minister of Food and Agriculture, in-charge of Livestock, told the Ghana News Agency that the ban was among other tough measures being adopted to contain the bird flu occurrence.

Speaking in an interview with the Ghana News Agency in Accra, Dr Bissiw warned that any importer, who attempts to bring poultry into the country would be prosecuted.

She said officials of the Veterinary Services Directorate of the Ministry are on high alert across the nation’s borders to ensure that the ban was fully enforced.

Dr Bissiw recounted that the outbreak started in Nigeria in 2014 and had gradually spread to Burkina Faso, the Ivory Coast and Ghana.

She expressed the hope that the outbreak in Ghana, which has so affected some poultry farms in the Volta Region, Ashanti and the Greater Accra Regions, would be brought under total control within a year.

The Deputy Minister said the H5N1 strain of the bird flu is the type that can be transmitted from animal to human; and that, within humans, the virus is capable of mutating into more complex forms.

Dr Bissiw said the disease, which is contained in the droppings of the infected birds, puts the lives of people, who handle them at risk.

She encouraged poultry farmers to report any suspicious case of the bird flu to the Directorate for quick action.

She said all birds on affected farms have been destroyed, as part of efforts to nip in the bud the spread of the disease in the country.

Dr Bissiw said government had voted GHȼ 2 million as compensation package for affected farmers.

She explained that when birds on an infected farm are destroyed, it has to be fumigated and allowed to remain fallow for a minimum period of six months before poultry production could resume.

She said although research shows that the H5N1 virus cannot be transmitted through cooked poultry meat or egg, it is advisable that Ghanaians buy their live poultry from certified credible farms. GNA

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