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22.02.2006 General News

Bird flu spread alarms poultry farmers


Sunyani Feb. 22 GNA - Alarmed poultry farmers are thronging the offices of the Sunyani Municipal Veterinary Service on the slightest show of any abnormal health conditions of their birds. Dr. Alhassan Mahama, Sunyani Municipal Veterinary Officer told GNA in an interview that the farmers have been trooping to the offices everyday in anguish, adding this had forced them to pay frequent visits to poultry farms to allay fears on the avian bird flu. The veterinary officer assured farmers and the general public that there was no cause for alarm in the Municipality, saying they could still

enjoy chicken "for now" as there had not been any reported case of the disease in any part of the country.

Dr. Mahama added that adequate measures had been put in place to curb any outbreak of the disease but expressed the hope that the municipality and the country as a whole might not encounter the problem. He explained that the nation had evolved an action plan to immediately identify the disease.

The veterinary officer explained there was an emergency report team, which would move to the least signal point with testing material, adding the Veterinary Service had trained technicians and veterinary surgeons to do surveillance on the disease. "There has been series of workshops to increase farmers' awareness about the disease", he said and appealed to farmers to report any strange symptoms or death of birds to the office for investigations to conducted. Dr. Mahama appealed to the public to ensure that their birds were kept indoors and prevented them from coming into contact with wild birds

such as vultures, egrets or water birds, among others. Madam Elisabeth Ohenewaa of the poultry division of Kwagyasco Company Limited in Sunyani told GNA her poultry still enjoyed good patronage.

"The public seems not to be perturbed by the disease, they still eat chicken as before", she said. A chicken seller, Madam Abenaa Akyeampomaa, said she still had high patronage, adding they had been sensitised about some of the symptoms of

the disease and were therefore on the alert to detect any abnormalities on the birds.

The GNA investigation team also received an appeal by operators of some fast food outlets in the municipality on the Government to, as a matter of urgency, ban the importation of poultry items and other birds.

The operators explained that even though some neighbouring countries had not detected the bird flu that had hit Northern Nigeria, "there was the need for the government to ban inter-state movement of poultry to curtail any development".

Some of them said they were experiencing low sales of chicken in spite of the fact that the flu had not been detected in the country.

Mrs. Josephine Brobbey, proprietress of 'Good Mark' chop bar said the demand for chicken had fallen, giving rise to the consumption of bush meat and fish.

Mr. John Afriyie, in-charge of Yankeena Fast Food said some customers who usually took chicken had for the past week refused it and preferred fish.

The case is however, different in some restaurants and chop bars as the GNA team found out that the demand for chicken was very high despite the scare.

At Amatel restaurant, Mr. Isaac K. Damoah, acting Manager, expressed satisfaction with the rate at which chicken was being patronised. "No customer has refused to take chicken while none of our customers has complained about the flu scare", he added.

Mrs. Gloria Amponsah of Globatt fast foods joint stressed the need for the government to provide immediate adequate information about the disease to enable people to detect it whenever they went to purchase the fowls.

The bird flu scare has not affected the sale of chicken at various restaurants and hotels in Techiman municipality.

A survey conducted by the GNA at three leading hotels namely Dyms, Agyeiwaa and Dery and four restaurants, White Rose, Bommers, Modern Way and Candilla, showed that frozen chicken and local birds (broilers) were still highly patronized.

Speaking to GNA at Dyms hotel, Mr. Charles Adokor, General manager, said there had not been any reported case of patrons refusing chicken. At Bommers restaurant, Mrs. Esther Owusu Adom, proprietress, also said patronage for both frozen chicken and broilers was encouraging.

Mr. Peter Adongo Frafra, a poultry farmer, told the team the people initially had the fear to purchase the birds but said the situation had changed and business was as usual.

Meanwhile Squadron-Leader Benjamin Anane Asamoah (rtd), Dormaa District Chief Executive has appealed to security personnel at the border posts with Cote d'Ivoire to be extra vigilant and stop all domestic birds from being brought into the district, a notable poultry producer in the country.

The DCE was briefing Customs, Immigration and Military personnel at Gonokrom, a major border town in the district where on the government's position on the bird flu disease scare.

He reminded the personnel of their pivotal role in dealing with such a precarious situations and urged them not to compromise their stewardship for their personal interests.

At separate meetings with the chiefs and people in 20 communities in the district, Sqn-Leader Anane-Asamoah reminded them to report any abnormal behaviour among domestic birds at Veterinary offices and not to attempt to treat them by themselves.

Meanwhile, Mr. Kwabena Asamoah Asare, chairman of Dormaa Poultry Farmers Association, has assured people in the district not to panic as plans were far advanced to ensure that the disease did not spread into the district.

He announced that the Association had invited Veterinary experts to give preparatory briefing to the more than 250 poultry farmers and their employers in the district on the symptoms of the disease and the necessary precautionary measures put in place to keep it at bay. Mr. Asare advised poultry farmers in the district to adhere strictly to basic hygiene on their farms and treat as very urgent, all manner of diseases on their farms. Alhaji Mumuni Issah, a prominent poultry farmer and managing director of MM Unity Farms at Dormaa-Ahenkro, has also stressed the need

for people in the district to be alert to report all domestic bird related diseases promptly to the appropriate quarters. Mr. Issah explained that the avian bird flu disease had "far reaching consequences beyond the gates of poultry farms", hence, the need for a combined approach to avert it. Visits to food joints, hotels and restaurants in Dormaa-Ahenkro, revealed that use of chicken in the preparation of meals had reduced considerably in the wake of the scare. Mrs. Evelyn Darko, proprietress of Hello Hello Catering Services told Ghana News Agency (GNA), the bird-flu has scared not only poultry farmers and consumers of chicken but also cooked food sellers as well.