Cape Town - The spread of the bird flu virus that has decimated parts the Western Cape's poultry industry may be be slowing down, according to Alan Winde, the Western Cape MEC for Economic Opportunities, a post that includes agriculture.
In a statement on Wednesday Winde said that no new cases of bird flu have been reported in the province in the past week.
Almost 3 million commercial poultry birds have been culled in the province since August 9, following an outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza, of the strain H5N8. Bird flu was first detected in South Africa in June this year.
This is the first time that a highly pathogenic strain of bird flu has been detected in poultry in South Africa.
“We are still investigating a small number of suspect cases, but the infection rate appears to be slowing down," said Winde. "In other countries, infections for this strain of highly pathogenic avian influenza have decreased in summer, due to the heat."
Winde said his department's focus was now on starting to rebuild the industry.
"We are assisting farmers to make sure their poultry houses are cleaned, so that they are able to start the restocking process. Animal Health Technicians are supporting farmers in this process," he said.
"I want to appeal to farmers to refrain from restocking until their poultry houses have been confirmed as clean. Restocking when the virus is still present will only lead to more culling.”
“We have observed price increases, but we will only have official numbers next week when Statistics South Africa releases its Consumer Price Index. These figures will show us the prices for October.”
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