A veterinary doctor, Dr Kwadwo Obeng-Wiredu, has called for an emergency preparedness and active surveillance plan to prevent the bird flu disease from spreading to other parts of the country.
The disease, which broke out in the Greater Accra Region, has spread to the Volta and the Ashanti regions.
Dr Obeng-Wiredu, the Deputy Director of the Accra Metropolitan Assembly Veterinary Department, said there was the need for co-ordination at the district level which should include the Regional Veterinary Officer, the District Veterinary Officer and their staff to manage the situation.
He also called for public health education for poultry farmers, sellers and the public because he said some farmers and sellers did not know about the disease.
At a forum to sensitise poultry farmers and sellers in the Accra metropolis to the disease yesterday, Dr Obeng-Wiredu called on the authorities to restrict the movement and sale of birds and poultry products and also place a total ban on the importation of poultry and poultry products from all affected countries.
Currently, Nigeria, Burkina Faso and Cote d’Ivoire are struggling with the disease and there is presently a temporary ban on the importation of poultry and poultry products from those countries.
Bird flu, also known as Avian influenza, broke out in the Greater Accra Region in May this year and has since spread to the Volta and the Ashanti regions.
Figures from the Parliamentary Select Committee on Food, Agriculture and Cocoa Affairs in July indicated that the disease had then affected 11 poultry farms in the three regions.
So far, the nation has lost GH¢800,000 resulting from the destruction of 33,143 birds, 1,058 crates of eggs and 37 bags of feed in the three affected regions.
In Accra, 726 birds on two farms have been destroyed.
Poultry farmers fear an epidemic because of inadequate education on the disease.
Report early signs
Dr Obeng-Wiredu said farmers and sellers needed to report early signs of the disease to the Veterinary Services Department, so that immediate action would be taken to stop the disease from causing severe damage.
“Robust collaboration and cooperation between the public and poultry farmers and the Veterinary Services is needed. The sooner we are notified of a potential instance of the disease, the sooner we can also respond, which gives the virus less of a chance to spread,” he stated.
Bird flu symptoms in poultry include lethargy, respiratory distress, facial swelling, decreased egg production, depression, ruffled feathers, excessive thirst, cessation of eggs production, watery diarrhoea and sudden death without clinical signs.
Symptoms in humans include sore throat, coughing and fever. The incubation period of the disease in humans is three to five days.