A professor of Veterinary Sciences at the Department of Animal Science of the School of Agriculture in the University of Cape Coast has explained that that Avian Influenza, popularly called Bird Flu or Fowl Plague is a viral disease that does not only affect birds – chicken, turkeys, guinea fowls, ducks etc, but can also affect man.
However, ducks show a bit of natural resistance to the disease. Ducks can carry the virus of the disease without showing symptoms of the disease.
The veterinary scientist explained that what makes the disease very dangerous is that once the disease occurs in a farm, it eventually wipes out the not only whole flock of chicken on the particular farm, but also spreads to other surrounding farms, to other regions, whole country and becomes a threat to the whole poultry industry in the world. That is why Bird Flu is a Notifiable disease to the world.
The virus that causes the disease is called Orthomyxovirus. Because it is a viral disease it is difficult to have medicines to cure it.
A vaccine has been developed to prevent the disease, but it not available or used in the country.
When there is an incidence of Bird Flu in a farm it becomes important not to allow the affect birds to stray outside one’s farm to prevent spreading the virus that causes the disease to other farms. Birds of affected farms are destroyed and burnt. In special situations the government may be pleaded with to give some compensation to such farms.
The virus that causes the disease is introduced into farms by wild birds that enter the pens of the chicken to search for food. Their droppings contaminate the litter, feed and water in the pens. The so infect chicken spread the virus by their faeces, nasal discharges and by aerosols as the turn over the litter in the coops. Farmers also contribute to the spread by their contaminated boots, farm clothing and equipment. Contaminated poultry meat and products can also spread the disease.
The infected birds show the following symptoms: elevated body temperature, but because of their feathers, this is not noticeable. The birds become dull, depressed, do not eat, their egg production reduces and some eggs are laid with soft shells. The head of affected birds gets swollen. Wattles also get swollen and turn from red to bluish green. They shed excessive tears. The feet become discoloured. Breathing becomes difficult because the nostrils become blocked. To breathe the birds, open their beaks. They also have diarrhoea.
Sir Prof. Anthony Annan-Prah gave the description of the disease when he spoke with Mr. Benjamin Nartey Tetteh on GBC Radio Central Morning Show on Wednesday 21st July 2021 as part of the public education on the disease.
He advised all and sundry to follow the directives given by the Veterinary Services Department to prevent and control the disease and report to the Veterinary s
Services when such symptoms are observed. He advised the public not to eat thus diseased birds. The public should cook their chicken products properly.
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