The Veterinary Council of Ghana is worried about the surge in infectious bronchitis, a respiratory disease in birds.

Scientists have identified up to 64 per cent prevalence in places like Ga East District of the greater Accra Region.

Chairman, Dr. Jonathan Amakye-Anim observes many farmers have often mistaken it for the Newcastle disease, another respiratory disease of birds.

He says the unregulated vaccine application by farmers is worsening the situation.

Infectious bronchitis is a major challenge to the poultry industry worldwide.

The disease caused by Infectious Bronchitis Virus (IBV), a form of coronavirus, is an acute and highly contagious disease of the respiratory, urinary and genital tract of chickens.

The disease is characterized by cough, sneeze, and nasal discharge and gasping.

The infection causes poor egg quality, and causes about 30 per cent death especially in young birds.

Scientists at the Animal Research Institute and Veterinary Services have identified at least four variants of the IBV.

“Serologically in Ga-East District, we found a prevalence of over 80 percent so it is really widespread in the poultry industry in the country,” said Dr. Matilda Ayim-Akonor, a senior research scientist at the Animal Research Institute.

Unfortunately, she says the vaccines available cannot protect against all the viruses.

Dr. Amakye-Anim reveals farmers in their attempt to salvage their birds have acquired vaccines from neighboring countries.

This he says is a recipe for disaster.

“People are having their farms at the borders of our neighboring countries like Ivory Coast and they vaccinate their birds. But when you bring the vaccines, you bring the virus because the vaccines contain live viruses,” he said.

At a stakeholder meeting at Ejisu, he said the Council will soon roll out a plan to do a mass vaccination.

“The next move will be the schedule and we bring in the vaccines and farmers will start vaccinating their birds,” he said.

Ashanti regional director of Agriculture, Rev. John Manu appealed to government to upgrade the Kumasi laboratory to detect the virus.

“We want the council and government to upgrade the Kumasi Laboratory so those in the middle belt and up North wouldn’t have to travel to Accra for the diagnosis.” he said.