There may have been no reports of new cases of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in the country for 10 days but the government is urging those involved in the poultry sector across the country to step up its biosecurity measures, according to the Government of Ghana.

At a press conference recently, Hon. Hanna Bissiw, a deputy minister for food and agriculture responsible for livestock, said that almost 24,000 birds had died of avian influenza in three regions - Ashanti, Volta and the Greater Accra – since May 2015.

Stressing the importance of a high level of biosecurity, she added that more than 1,100 crates of eggs and 37 bags of feed have also been destroyed and there is an investigation regarding the involvement of a feed mill in outbreaks in Greater Accra, the region where most of the outbreaks have occurred.

The Minister announced that the government is making plans to pay 90 percent compensation to farmers whose poultry and products are destroyed by the veterinary services, and working with all those involved in poultry farming and allied sectors as well as schoolchildren to inform them about the disease and measures to control it.

Bissiw added that the government is working with the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) over guidance for veterinary authorities to establish zones and regions free from avian influenza so that poultry trade can continue within the country and internationally.

Meanwhile, the Ghana National Poultry Farmers Association (GNPFA) has been assuring the public that it is ready to meet the 40 percent increase in demand for birds at Christmas, reports GhanaWeb. A lack of funding has been hampering efforts to control the outbreaks, according Dr. Alice Attah, regional veterinary officer for Greater Accra.

This month, the government had been criticized for not providing enough information about avian influenza by poultry traders whose business is being adversely affected by the outbreaks.

OIE has received 9 reports so far of HPAI outbreaks from the veterinary authority in Ghana since April 2015. These outline 23 outbreaks in farmed, backyard and village flocks, which have been caused by the H5N1 subtype of the virus and led to the death or destruction of almost 59,000 poultry, mostly in the Greater Accra region.