Don’t consume sick birds, public advised

Mr Alexander Segbefia, Minister of HealthThe Acting Head of Disease Surveillance at the Ghana Health Service (GHS), Dr. Michael Adjabeng, has cautioned the public not to rush to kill, prepare and consume sick birds in their farms or at the home, due to the avian influenza or bird flu scare in the Accra.

He said the H5NI avian influenza case suspected in the country had a low efficiency to move from birds to human, but could be easily contracted during the preparation or de-feathering of infected birds.

“It is necessary that we all be on a look out, to quickly report to the Vertinary Services, any spotted sick birds around us as well as visit the hospitals when we contract any form of flu in our households.”

Dr. Adjabeng, who was speaking in an interview with The Ghanaian Times in Accra yesterday, said although farm workers who had prolonged contacts with birds stood at high risk, it was necessary for the public to properly cook birds before consuming them.

He said the GHS had sent alerts to its regional and district health administrations to be vigilant, with regards to the suspected bird flu.

Meanwhile, the Head of Public Health at the Veterinary Services Department (VSD), Dr Bashiru Boi Kikimoto, said the VSD has taken the necessary steps to contain the infection, while it awaited results from the International reference Laboratory of the World Association of Animal Health.

He could not tell when the results would be released.

“Earlier on, we met poultry farmers in the Greater Accra Region and cautioned them to be on the alert for birda flu infections among their birds and report any suspected infections on time,” he said.

Dr. Kikimoto said consumers of chicken and other birds were safe, and assured that there was no risk in eating cooked poultry.

The risk of avian influenza infections to human is low; however, confirmed cases of human infections from several types of avian flu have been reported since 1997.

During an outbreak of avian influenza among poultry, there is a possible risk of infection for people who have prolonged contact with infected birds or surfaces that have been contaminated with secretions or excretions from infected birds.

The influenza virus has two different strains projecting from the surface; Type One is made of protein called the Hemagglutinin (HA) which has 16 subtypes, and the second is called Neuraminidase (NA) which comes in nine different subtypes.

The human flu virus currently circulating among the human population is the H1NI, HIN2 and H3N2

Even then, the virus is unlikely to spread from person to person and there is no evidence that cooked poultry can infect people.

Symptoms of Avian influenza, commonly known as bird flu, include fever, cough, muscle fatigue, severe respiratory disease and sore throat, while symptoms of infected birds include ruffled feathers, soft-shelled eggs, depression and droopiness, sudden drop in egg production, sudden death and nasal discharges.

By Linda Aryeetey    

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