Ghana has appealed to the international community for support to combat the bird flu outbreak.
Dr Hannah Bissiw, Deputy Minister of Food and Agriculture in-charge of livestock, said Ghana needs adequate resources and logistics to halt the spread of the H5N1 strain of the bird flu before it assumes catastrophic proportions.
She observed that within the last two months the nation had recorded bird flu outbreaks in the Volta, Ashanti and the Greater Accra Regions; which the Veterinary Services Directorate of the Ministry is working round the clock to bring under control.
Dr Bissiw, who made the appeal in an interview with Ghana News Agency in Accra, said it would take about a year to bring the outbreak under total control.
She explained that despite the destruction of birds on affected farms, what made the situation complex was the practice of backyard poultry keeping in the country.
The Deputy Minister stated that tests conducted on some backyard poultry on sale at the Kantamanto Market in Accra proved positive to the avian flu.
She said as part of efforts to contain the bird flu outbreaks, Parliament had approved a GHȼ2 million compensation package for affected farmers.
She, therefore, appealed to poultry farmers, backyard poultry keepers and vendors to report any suspicious case of the disease to the Directorate for quick action.
She said the ban on poultry movement issued by the Directorate is still in force and urged poultry vendors to abide by it.
Dr Bissiw said the H5N1 strain of the bird flu, which some birds had tested positive in Ghana, is the type that could be transmitted from animal to human; and within human the virus is capable of mutating into more complex forms.
She said the disease, which is contained in the droppings of the infected birds, puts the lives of people who handle them at risk.
She said the poultry industry creates job for people and if it is under attack, it means that the livelihood of the people is under attack.
Dr Bissiw said the government had put in place tough measures to prevent the importation of poultry from in and outside the sub-region.
She said the surveillance would only be relaxed into a partial one when the nation has being declared bird-flu free.
Dr Bissiw commended the media for supporting government in its efforts to nip in the bud the spread of the disease in the country.
The recent outbreaks of the H5N1 virus in West Africa have also affected Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Niger and Cote d’Ivoire.
In Ghana, at least 40,000 birds have been destroyed following the recent outbreak.
Bird flu symptoms in birds include lethargy, respiratory distress, facial swelling, decreased egg production, and sudden death without clinical signs.
Symptoms in human include sore throats, coughing and fever. The incubation period of the disease in human is three to five days.
Since its widespread re-emergence in 2003 and 2004, the avian flu virus had spread from Asia to Europe and Africa and has become entrenched in poultry in some countries, resulting in millions of poultry infections, a number of human cases, and many human deaths.