Government halts research into seabirds following avian influenza outbreak

2018-03-23 22:21
(iStock)

(iStock)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

All research activities involving the handling of seabirds have been halted across the country following the avian influenza outbreak among seabirds, the Department of Environmental Affairs said on Friday.

The department said this was in an effort to manage the spread of the disease.

Spokesperson Zolile Nqayi urged members of the public to exercise caution when approaching seabirds, especially those found along the beach, and when visiting seabird colonies.

"Sick seabirds should be reported to the nearest local veterinarian, conservation authority or to permitted seabird rehabilitation centres," he said in a statement.

Nqayi said the department, together with all relevant management authorities, was managing seabird colonies and had implemented stringent biosecurity measures at various seabird rehabilitation centres, captive institutions and known breeding localities.

ALSO READ: Avian flu leads to industry losses of R954m - report

He said this was to address the spread of the H5N8 strain of the avian influenza that was affecting several seabird species, including swift terns, African penguins and Cape gannets, along the country's coastline.

The swift terns seemed to be the most affected seabird species, Nqayi said.

Declining seabird populations under pressure

He revealed that the "highly pathogenic" H5N8 avian influenza was the same strain reported in the poultry industry in 2017.

"This strain of bird flu has not been found to affect people, as was confirmed through testing of people in contact with infected chickens in South Africa in 2017.

"However, bird flu viruses can, in rare cases, cause infections in humans. Thus, strict biosecurity measures should be enforced and precautions should be taken when handling affected seabirds," Nqayi said.

He added that wild birds were carriers of the disease and were able to carry the disease through flyways.

"In seabirds, the disease is spread through direct contact between healthy and infected birds. Most seabird species live in colonies, and may contract the disease from each other, or through indirect contact with contaminated equipment or other materials."

The current outbreak has added more pressure on already declining seabird populations, he said.

"Processes are in place to ensure extended surveillance of infected seabirds."

Nqayi added that the department would exercise even stricter precautions and stringent biosecurity measures during preparation for a voyage to Marion Island in April.


Read more on:    animals  |  health

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Inside News24

 
/News
Traffic Alerts
Traffic
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.