FAO Confirms Bird Flu Outbreak

TEST RESULTS of the suspected avian influenza or bird flu samples sent to an international laboratory by government for confirmation has proved positive.

The reference laboratory of the World Animal Health Organisation (OIE) and the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) in Dova in Italy, which undertook the test, confirmed the preliminary positive results of the Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research and the Accra Veterinary Laboratories.

The result, therefore, implies that there is bird flu in the country; however, there is no recorded case(s) of transmission from the affected birds to humans.

It would be recalled that five cases of bird flu or avian influenza virus were recorded in the Greater Accra Region, specifically Tema and Achimota late last month.

The Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research which conducted the test for the six samples presented confirmed the suspicion of H5N1 or avian influenza virus.

The Ministry of Food and Agriculture, for confirmation sent the suspected samples to the FAP/OIE laboratory for further tests to be conducted.

The sector minister, Fifi Fiavi Kwetey, speaking to journalists on the results of the test in Accra said, ‘In line with our avowed aim to treat this situation seriously, we sent samples to FAO/OIE reference laboratory and on June 2015 we received affirmation of the results determined by our laboratories,’ he said.

Mitigation Measures
He said following the preliminary findings, the country’s experts moved to try and contain the disease and prevent its further spread.

Mr Kwetey said the affected farms were identified and their birds were quickly isolated. Furthermore, the poultry of the affected farms were also destroyed, including eggs, feed and other materials.

‘The farms were also disinfected and our medical counterparts are working to screen all poultry workers on affected farms for symptoms of the disease,’ he said.

He said in addition, the ministry had requested the assistance of the FAO to support the surveillance team with technical support on avain influenza response.

Mr Kwetey said the extent of the spread of the virus was yet to be known but the most effective way to fight the virus was through robust collaboration of the public and veterinary services.

‘The sooner they are notified of a potential instance of avain influenza, the sooner they can respond, which gives the virus less of a chance to spread,’ he said.

The ministry has, therefore, appealed to the poultry farmers and the public to support the response effort by reporting any incidence of sick poultry and helping with the enforcement of the ban on imported poultry

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