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Assessment of pig farmers' knowledge on Influenza A virus, and adoption of biosecurity measures in areas with previous outbreak of avian influenza in the Greater Accra Region of Ghana

Assessment of pig farmers' knowledge on Influenza A virus, and adoption of biosecurity measures in areas with previous outbreak of avian influenza in the Greater Accra Region of Ghana

Salisu Shaban1, Foster Kyei1,&, Joseph Awuni2, Andrews Danquah1, Moses Teye1, Emmanuel Plas Otwe1, Theophilus Odoom2, Benjamin Obukowho Emikpe3


1Department of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology, School of Biological Sciences, College of Agriculture and Natural Sciences, University of Cape Coast, Cape Coast, Ghana, 2Accra Veterinary Laboratory, Veterinary Services, Directorate Ministry Food and Agriculture, Accra, Ghana, 3School of Veterinary Medicine, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, Ghana



&Corresponding author
Foster Kyei, Department of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology, School of Biological Sciences, College of Agriculture and Natural Sciences, University of Cape Coast, Cape Coast, Ghana



To the Editors PAMJ One Health    Down

Pig handlers, especially in West Africa, give little attention to biosecurity and hygiene issues. Low level of compliance among poultry and pig farmers has also been demonstrated in areas with previous outbreak of Avian influenza in Ghana [1]. This was partly attributed to costs, inadequate veterinary officers and attitudinal orientation of which level of education was implicated [2]. Consequently, low-level compliance might boost reverse zoonotic transmission of influenza viruses with its concomitant potential pandemic [3]. Therefore, this study sought to assess pig farmer´s knowledge on influenza A virus, and adoption of biosecurity measures in areas with previous outbreak of avian influenza in the Greater Accra Region of Ghana.


The findings revealed that more than half of the respondents lacked awareness of influenza A in pigs, had no knowledge on mode of transmission and had no idea with respect to prevention. This is similar to a research conducted in Kumasi, Ghana, which demonstrated a low level of awareness about swine influenza among pig handlers [4]. This further agrees with what was reported on biosecurity in areas with previous outbreak avian influenza in Ghana, ascribing low compliance to low level of awareness and cost [1]. Source of information was on the low ebb as over 50% of the respondents had no source of information. Strikingly, only about 2% of the respondents got information from extension/veterinary officers. Research by Rahman has emphasized the extent to which knowledge and source of information influence decision of farmers for sustainable agriculture [5].


The findings from the study also demonstrated that farmers practiced one form of bio-security or another. However, the implementation of bio-security measures was very low among the respondents, where 62.5% had no functional footbath; 67.5% allowed free access to piggery; 47.5% did not have personal protective equipment; 60% of the farms not fenced and 47% obtained starter stock from other farmers. This study reveals a yawning gap in the benefits associated with the practice of biosecurity; as opined by a study in Brazil [6], where lower seroprevalence (prevalence ratio 0.75, or 25% lower) was associated with a farm fenced with a bird proof net compared with farm without bird proof netting. A similar result reminisced lower anti-Avian influenza viral (IAV) antibodies in pigs, attributing this to the availability of fence in such farms as opposed to non-fenced farms [7]. The most probable explanation for this is protection against indirect transmission of influenza virus mechanically by birds and other wild species [8]. Research elsewhere also implicated open partitions between pens, and uncontrolled access to farms as recipe for herd infection [7,9].


The study further explored association between socio-demography, such as level of education and adoption of biosecurity (fencing and functional footbath). There was a significant correlation between education and the adoption of certain biosecurity measures, such as fencing and availability of functional footbath. Respondents with some form of education, more especially secondary and tertiary education had better understanding of mode of transmission and prevention. This further suggests that, this could probably be attributed to education offering better opportunity for the improvement of one´s perception about a pandemic. This corroborated previous study which demonstrated that cost and lack of relevant education by livestock farmers were probable reasons for the adoption of some biosecurity measures on livestock farms [2]. It is therefore imperative to train pig farmers to recognize influenza-like symptoms in pigs, such as nasal discharge, coughing, fever, dyspnea, and conjunctivitis [10]. Hence, envisaging motivational educational farm level model will be a thrust of great importance to both the literate and illiterate at large. Again, there was an association between level of education and knowledge on mode of transmission of influenza. This could have arisen as a result of education, offering easy access to information from different sources, such as internet, radio and television. This also offsets the overreliance of farmers on extension service delivery.



Conclusion    Down

The overall respondents adopted some form of biosecurity; but the general outlook is not impressive, notwithstanding a greater profit and cost effectiveness associated with applying biosecurity practices as compared to treatment and vaccination. Educational background has a significant influence on the knowledge of respondents regarding the virus and the adoption of biosecurity. However, formal education alone is not a guarantee to automatic translation of knowledge into attitude and practice. Motivational integrated educational model, both formal and informal, should be adopted at the farm level for the benefits of all farmers. Source of information about influenza has exposed some lapses in the delivery of extension services in Ghana, representing an information gap.



Competing interests Up    Down

The authors declare no competing interest.



Authors' contributions Up    Down

All authors SS, FK, JA, AD, MT, EPO, TO and BOE contributed to the study´s design; SS, FK MT and EPO drafted the manuscript; JA, AD, TO and BOE critically revised the manuscript and provided valuable inputs. All the authors have read and agreed to the final manuscript.



References Up    Down

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