Four Western Cape poultry farms record avian flu cases

  • Four commercial chicken farms in the Western Cape have had avian flu outbreaks.
  • These cases are in addition to five outbreaks in Gauteng and North West.
  • It is unclear whether the Western Cape strain is the same as those at the farms in other provinces.

Four outbreaks of avian flu have been recorded in the Western Cape.

Western Cape Agriculture MEC Ivan Meyer said the infected farms are near Worcester, Malmesbury and Hopefield.

“Two farms have been confirmed to have H5 highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI), though laboratory confirmation is still pending for the other two farms,” Meyer said.

READ | Poultry industry on alert after avian flu detected at Gauteng chicken farm

These are in addition to the four outbreaks in Gauteng and one in North West.

The first avian flu outbreak was reported at a farm on the East Rand in April, which saw 300 birds die at a commercial chicken farm in Ekurhuleni.

Following the outbreak, the Botswana government banned poultry and poultry product imports from South Africa. This ban has since been relaxed, South African Poultry Association spokesperson Izaak Breitenbach previously told News24.

Control measures

All affected farms have been quarantined, with control measures being implemented, Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development Department spokesperson Reggie Ngcobo told News24.

He said genetic evaluation had confirmed that the outbreaks seem to have been caused by non-identical avian flu strains.

Meyer said the Western Cape Veterinary Services is in the process of investigating other suspected cases.

“The relationship to the viruses present in the north of the country is unconfirmed. The total number of birds that have been culled or have died from HPAI totals approximately 134 000,” the MEC said.

The provincial government said poultry meat and eggs are safe for consumers to eat.

The Western Cape Department of Agriculture has urges the public to be vigilant and report unusual mortalities in any birds to their local state veterinarian.

“Strains of the avian influenza virus recently identified in South Africa carry a low risk for human infection. However, humans can transmit the virus from sick birds to other birds on their clothes and hands. People are therefore advised to handle all dead birds with gloves and wash their hands afterwards,” Meyer added.

Source: News24

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