We Are Capable Of Containing Bird Flu – Hannah Bissiw

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The Ministry of Food and Agriculture, has said it has the capacity to contain the outbreak of Avian Flu also known as H5N1 in Ghana although the virus could be transferred from birds to human beings.

The Deputy Agric Minister, Dr. Hannah Bissiw said some experts are in the country to assess the situation and by Friday, recommendations will made to protect lives.

“We are capable of containing it. Apart from that, there are experts who have been around for some days now – they go to the filed with the vets, we are checking all the loopholes that we may have on our farms to determine what might have gone wrong. They will be briefing us on Friday so that we will know what they have seen and what their recommendations are and then we will move forward,” she disclosed on Eyewitness News.

Tests results of samples of reported Avian Flu cases taken to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) Laboratory in Padova, Italy proved positive.

The samples were taken from some poultry farms in Achimota and Tema in May 2015 after reports mereged that there was a possible outbreak of the disease in Ghana.

The samples were then taken to Accra Veterinary Laboratory and the Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research and the tests proved positive.

The Ministry however took the samples to Italy for further tests and the results again proved positive.

Dr. Bissiw, however, said there was no cause for alarm although humans may be at risk.

She explained that “H5NI means it can move from birds to human. For the birds, it’s not only the poultry but any animal with feathers – it can get the H5NI.”

“Once you get into contact with any affected bird, the possibility of you getting it is high…it doesn’t also mean that it is so dangerous that we have to stop eating birds.”

“For you to get H5NI, you should have handled the bird, fed on it in a very wrong manner…when it does happen in human, it’s fatal and because of that we are raising the awareness,” she added.

According to her, government will take the necessary steps to protect the country’s borders as well as quarantine the farms which have recorded cases of the H5NI because “we should not allow birds in and out of those areas so that it can be contained and then they can better fight it and eliminate it.”

Situation is bad
The Deputy Minister was however unable to indicate how far the disease has spread since no reports have come in from outside Accra.

She pointed out that the “situation is bad because it’s bird flu but the scale of the outbreak is not that bad because it has appeared in only four farms and
already, we have attacked it with all aggressiveness.”

Dr. Bissiw remarked that so far, no human being has been infected because “even in the sub-region, we’ve not had any case of human getting the flu from the birds.”

She said her Ministry has not been able to determine how the virus got into the country “but the most important thing right now is that it is here.”

The workers of the affected farms are to be screened to make sure they are free of the virus.

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