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14.04.2008 General News

ANTHRAX BREAKS OUT IN U/EAST…3 deaths already recorded

By Ghanaian Chronicle

FOLLOWING THE death of three
persons at Biembog, near Woriyanga in the Garu-Tempane district, through the outbreak of Anthrax, the Upper East Regional office of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA), has deployed a team of vertinary officers to the area, for a mass vaccination exercise against the disease.

Dr. Thomas Anyorikeya, the Regional Vertinary Officer, told The Chronicle in an interview on Sunday, that anthrax was endemic in the Garu-Tempane district and its environs, especially Biembog, where three people, including a child, have died after consuming the carcass of infected animals.

He explained that since February this year, there has been a routine vaccination exercise in all the then eight districts, now nine, in the region against the disease.

He said on March 24, a bull died at a certain Kaka's house at Biembog, and the family members consumed the carcass.

After consuming the carcass, some felt ill and were rushed to the Woriyanga Clinic. They were diagnosed as having anthrax, and when questioned by the health workers, whether or not they had consumed a carcass, they denied it.

On March 28, one of the patients died of the disease, before his family members admitted that they had consumed the carcass of an infected animal. The health workers then reported the matter to the MOFA. Later two additional deaths were recorded.

Dr. Anyorikeya said when the District Director reported the case to the regional office, more vaccines were immediately sent to the area, for them to vigorously embark on a mass vaccination exercise.

The Regional Vertinary Officer, who mentioned respiratory problems, boils on the skin and diarrhoea, as some of the symptoms of anthrax, said there were enough vaccines to carry out the exercise.

He said it was GH20p per animal, and urged farmers to bring out their animals for the exercise.

According to him, farmers who could afford upright payment would pay, but those who may not afford will be given two weeks to settle their debts.

He said only cattle, sheep, goats and pigs will be vaccinated and advised farmers, who do not have money, to sell their guinea fouls to enable them settle the bills for the vaccination.

Dr. Anyorikeya expressed worry about the inability of some farmers, who still owe the ministry, after the 2006 vaccination exercise, to settle their debts.

He has since led a team of vertinary officers, from all the district capitals in the region, to Garu, to begin a mass vaccination exercise, starting from Monday, April 14.

The Regional Director of the MOFA, Mr. Roy Ayaraga, observed that livestock played a very important role in Northern Ghana, stating that it was through livestock that farmers were able to cope with situations, e.g. after last year's flood disaster.

It was against this background that government implemented a livestock development programme, under the MOFA, to stress on the importance of livestock.

The Regional Director said his outfit was poised to improving livestock feeding, breeding and watering in the region.

These were all aimed at improving productivity and creating a higher market value.

Mr. Ayaraga disclosed that the ministry had trained community livestock workers, who were mainly farmers, to handle common complications affecting livestock, while they report the much more serious ones to vertinary officers.

The MOFA has also given some ligneous seeds to farmers, to sow for the purposes of improving pastures in livestock.

He warned that people, who negligently caused harm, by preparing carcasses of their animals, and selling them to the public, would be prosecuted when caught.

Mr. Ayaraga urged the people in the region, to report any incidence of dead animals, to the nearest vertinary officers or community livestock workers, for post-mortem to be conducted.

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