[Source: US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Emerging Infectious Diseases Journal, full page: (LINK). Extract.]
Volume 22, Number 12—December 2016 / Letter
Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza A(H5N1) Virus among Poultry, Ghana, 2015
To the Editor:
Outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) A(H5N1) virus among poultry were first reported in Africa in 2006, with initial reports from Nigeria (1). The virus then spread to several countries (e.g., Egypt, Côte d’Ivoire, Burkina Faso, Niger) in Africa, leading to large economic losses (1,2). In 2007, Ghana reported the first HPAI H5N1 cases among poultry in 3 regions: Greater Accra, Volta, and Brong Ahafo (3,4). The outbreak was contained by measures such as destruction of all birds on affected farms, disinfection of affected farms, and restricted movement of poultry and poultry products. Soon after containment, active influenza surveillance was initiated among birds, domestic poultry, and the human population throughout the country (5). Until 2015, no influenza-positive samples among birds had been detected in Ghana since the 2006–2007 outbreak. In January 2015, Nigeria resumed reporting HPAI H5N1–positive samples among poultry (6). One month later, HPAI H5N1–positive samples among chickens were confirmed in Burkina Faso (7). Then, in April 2015, chicken farmers in the Greater Accra region in Ghana reported a large number of deaths among domestic chicken flocks. Tracheal swabs collected from dead chickens and tested at the laboratories of the Veterinary Services Directorate in Accra, Ghana, confirmed the presence of HPAI H5N1 virus infection. By June 2015, the poultry populations in 5 of Ghana’s 10 regions were affected, leading to the death or culling of ≈100,000 poultry (7). Affected farms in Ghana (in the Greater Accra, Volta, and Ashanti regions) included medium-scale commercial farms with ≈30,000 chickens (broilers and layers) ranging from day-old chicks to layers >21 weeks of age; small-scale commercial bird farms with 200–1,000 chickens; and free-range local poultry of mixed species raised with low levels of biosafety. The death rate for chickens during the period of sample collection (April 13–June 11, 2015) was 17.6% (6,919 of 39,281 poultry died) (7). No direct links among farms were evident at this time. However, further spread in the Greater Accra region has been attributed to movement of live poultry. Outbreaks have been documented in live bird markets and backyard poultry, leading to a ban on movement of live poultry, feed, and equipment from affected regions. These counter-measures resulted in reduced incidence among poultry. For a lower-middle–income country like Ghana, such outbreaks are a major threat to food security and human health. We describe the outbreak strain found in Ghana during 2015 and its zoonotic potential.
Ivy Asantewaa Asante, Stephanie Bertram, Joseph Awuni, Abraham Nii Okai Commey, Ben Aniwa, William Kwabena Ampofo, and Gülsah Gabriel
Author affiliations: Heinrich Pette Institute, Leibniz Institute for Experimental Virology, Hamburg, Germany (I.A. Asante, S. Bertram, G. Gabriel); Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research, University of Ghana, Accra, Ghana (I.A. Asante, W.K. Ampofo); Center for Structural and Cellular Biology in Medicine at the University of Lübeck, Lübeck, Germany (S. Bertram, G. Gabriel); Veterinary Services Directorate, Accra (J. Awuni, A.N.O. Commey, B. Aniwa)
Suggested citation for this article: Asante IA, Bertram S, Awuni J, Commey ANO, Aniwa B, Ampofo WK. Highly pathogenic avian influenza A(H5N1) virus among poultry, Ghana, 2015. Emerg Infect Dis. 2016 Dec [date cited]. http://dx.doi.org/10.3201/eid2212.160639
Keywords: Research; Avian Influenza, H5N1; Poultry; Ghana.