Temporary ban placed on sale, movement of live birds in Accra

The Veterinary Services Department of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA) has temporarily placed a ban on the sale and movement of live birds within Accra to prevent further outbreaks of Avian Influenza in the city and its environs.

This means poultry, including fowls, ducks, turkey and geese, cannot be sold or moved around Accra.
A statement signed by the acting Director of the Veterinary Services Department , Dr Ben Aniwa, said, “The general public and, especially cockerel and pullet vendors, are advised to cease the practice until further notice as their movement from place-to-place poses a threat to both humans and birds.”
According to the statement, two of the outbreaks in the region had been linked to vendors.
The Veterinary Services Department has, therefore, called on the security services and the public to cooperate with the internal movement control of street poultry vendors.
Bird flu is a deadly strain of a virus that attacks poultry and kills them after a short period. The deadly H5N1 bird flu can kill humans and has killed people worldwide, particularly in Asia and Middle East, since 2003.
Background of current bird flu outbreak in Ghana
The Veterinary Services Department first banned the importation of poultry and its products from Burkina Faso in April this year as a counter measure against the outbreak of bird flu in Ghana following an outbreak of the deadly bird flu in that country.
Veterinary officers have increased their surveillance activities in the Volta, Upper East and Upper West regions to prevent a possible outbreak in Ghana.
The Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research in May this year confirmed the outbreak of bird flu in Accra.
Five out of six sample tests conducted by the institute proved positive for the bird flu virus.
According to the institute, the samples were received on May 15, 2015 from two farms located in Achimota and Tema.
At the time, the institute said the virus was from bird-to-bird, adding, however, that the institute was yet to conduct tests on the handlers of those birds to confirm whether or not the virus had been transferred from birds to humans.
On June 9, MoFA confirmed that some birds in the Greater Accra Region had been infected by bird flu.
According to the ministry, the test results of samples of reported Avian Flu cases taken to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) Laboratory in Padova, Italy, proved positive.
Figures from the Parliamentary Select Committee on Food, Agriculture and Cocoa Affairs indicate that the disease has so far affected 11 poultry farms in the Greater Accra, Volta and Ashanti regions.
So far, the nation has lost GH¢800,000 to the disease due to the destruction of 33,143 birds, 1,058 crates of eggs and 37 bags of feed in the three affected regions.
On July 2, the Chairman of Parliamentary Select Committee on Food, Agriculture and Cocoa Affairs, Mr Gabriel Essilfie, and a Deputy Minister of Food and Agriculture, Ms Hannah Bissiw, appealed to Parliament to intervene in the fight against bird flu in the country as MoFA lacked funds to fight the disease.
Bird flu outbreak in the past in Ghana
This is not the first time bird flu is giving health and veterinary authorities headache in Ghana.
The country recorded its first bird flu on May 2, 2007. The virus was first detected on a small-scale poultry farm on April 24, 2007 within the Tema municipality.
By September that year, MoFA, in consultation with the Ghana Poultry Development Board, disbursed over ¢1.5 billion (old cedis) as compensation to farmers who had their birds destroyed as a result of the disease. In that year, 13,371 birds had died while a total of 27,356 birds were destroyed as part of control measures.

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