GHANA – Ghana is on high alert following reported cases of spread of the highly pathogenic Avian Influenza in the country, that could affect about 600,000 farm animals.

The West African country has confirmed an outbreak of the bird flu in seven farms located at the Greater Accra, Volta and Central regions.

According to Patrick Abakeh, Director of veterinary services at the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA), nearly 6,000 birds were found to have died of the H5N1 avian flu, with the veterinary department forced to destroy 4,500 chickens as part of surveillance and diseases-control management.

“From these seven farms, 5,811 birds died naturally, and the veterinary services department destroyed 4,500 birds. So, in all 10,311 birds have so far been lost to the outbreak,” Abekeh said.

The most affected area was Central region with 2,400 birds dying naturally and 4,200 destroyed, followed by Greater Accra with 3,167 birds died naturally and 300 destroyed and the Volta Region, with 224 birds dying naturally.

“The zoonotic nature of the disease calls for public alert and vigilance to mitigate the possible impact on the poultry industry and public-health, in general.”

Ghana Ministry of Food and Agriculture

To curb the spread of the disease, movement of poultry within and from affected regions to other parts of the country have been banned by the government.

Further, it has called for strict inspection and issuance of permits to cover the movement of all poultry and poultry products from unaffected parts of the country, reports Ghanaian Times.

“The zoonotic nature of the disease calls for public alert and vigilance to mitigate the possible impact on the poultry industry and public-health, in general,” MoFA cautioned in a statement.

It advised citizens to report any unusual deaths of domestic poultry and wild birds to the nearest veterinary office and public authorities for public safety.

The public has also been urged to avoid the handling of dead birds with bare hands and consume only well-cooked poultry meat and poultry products.

“The outbreak of the disease follows the detection of similar cases in neighbouring countries since January, 2021,” it said.

To this end, Ghana has suspended poultry imports from Togo, Niger, Burkina Faso, Nigeria, Mauritania and Senegal as a precaution.

Togo last month culled thousands of birds in response to its own H5N1 outbreak.

In April, the pathogenic disease wreaked havoc in Nigeria with cases of rampant out-breaks reported in Kano State, registering a loss of over N500 million (US$1.3m) worth of poultry.

The recent case in Ghana, marks its fifth major outbreak of avian flu since 2007, as other cases were reported in 2015, 2016 and 2018, with significant economic impact on affected poultry farmers.

The outbreak risks further price pressures in the West African nation after food and transportation costs pushed inflation rate to 7.8% in June.

The rate had declined in the previous two months. Growth in food prices, which propelled inflation above 10% for most of last year, quickened to 7.3% in June from 5.4% in May.

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