The Western Regional Directorate of Public Health has alerted stakeholders and the public about the outbreak of avian influenza (AI) in the Sekondi- Takoradi Metropolis and the Effia-Kwesimintsim Municipality in the Western Region.
The Deputy Director of Public Health, Western Region, Dr Gifty Amugi, issued the caution in a statement copied the Deputy Director, Clinical Care, municipal/district directors of health service and medical superintendents, in the Western Region.
She added: “This serves to alert you of an outbreak of avian influenza in Sekondi-Takoradi Metropolis and Effia-Kwesimintsim Municipality. This came to light when the Regional Veterinary Laboratory confirmed the infection in two poultry farms in the two districts.”Dr Amugi said “all the birds in two farms have since been destroyed and preliminary disinfection initiated.”
She requested all health personnel to look out for signs and symptoms of avian Influenza since it was highly infectious and could be fatal to humans.
Dr Amugi said “suspected and confirmed avian Influenza cases can be detected in any person presenting with unexplained acute lower respiratory illness with fever more than 38Celsius and cough, shortness of breath or difficulty in breathing.”
Others include exposure within seven days prior to symptom onset, close contact within one metre with a person caring for, speaking with, or touching who is a suspected, probable, or confirmed.
Dr Amugi explained that these might occur during handling, slaughtering, de-feathering, butchering, culling, preparation for consumption of poultry.
She said “consumption of raw or undercooked poultry products in an area where avian influenza infections in animals or humans have been suspected or confirmed in the last month, close contact with a confirmed avian influenza infected animal other than poultry or wild birds.”
Dr Amugi said “confirmed avian Influenza case is where a person meeting the criteria for a suspected case and positive laboratory results from a laboratory whose avian influenza test results are accepted by World Health Organisation (WHO) as confirmatory.”
Avian influenza is a highly contagious viral disease that affects both domestic and wild birds. AI viruses have also been isolated, although less frequently, from mammalian species, including rats, mice, weasels, ferrets, pigs, cats, tigers, dogs and horses, as well as from humans.
Circulation of avian influenza (AI) viruses is not a new phenomenon. There are many descriptions of historical outbreaks of avian influenza disseminating within domestic poultry flocks in the literature. AI occurs worldwide and different strains are more prevalent in certain areas of the world than others.
Avian influenza outbreaks can lead to devastating consequences for the poultry industry as well as at national level.
Several factors can contribute to the spread of AI viruses, such as globalisation and international trade, farming and sale (live bird markets) and wild birds and migratory routes.
In birds, AI viruses are shed in the faeces and respiratory secretions. They can all be spread through direct contact with secretions from infected birds, especially through faeces or through contaminated feed and water.
Because of the resistant nature of AI viruses, including their ability to survive for long periods when temperatures are low, they can also be carried on farm equipment and spread easily from farm to farm.
Wild birds normally carry AI viruses in their respiratory or intestinal tracts but they do not usually get sick, which allows them to carry the viruses long distances along their migration flyways.