Farmers, producers warned after further avian flu outbreaks

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Chickens in a poultry farm.
Chickens in a poultry farm.
  • Vigilance is needed after further avian flu outbreaks.
  • Outbreaks have been detected in Gauteng and the Western Cape.
  • According to the department, the consumer has no reason to be concerned about possible infection.

The Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development warned farmers and producers to treat any increase in poultry deaths as potential avian flu - until proven otherwise.

An outbreak in avian influenza was recorded at a commercial chicken farm in Randfontein, Gauteng.

It comes after four outbreaks were detected on other commercial chicken properties.

"[There is] a total of five HPAI H5N1 (Asian highly pathogenic avian influenza) outbreaks – four in Gauteng and one outbreak in North West.

Department spokesperson Reggie Ngcobo said in a statement:

All affected farms have been quarantined, with control measures being implemented.

Western Cape agriculture MEC Ivan Meyer said, following these outbreaks, a broiler breeder farm in the Worcester area also tested positive for avian flu. 

"The affected farm is under quarantine, and the process of humanely culling the affected chickens is underway," Meyer said.

READ | Avian flu found at second East Rand farm

The department said genetic evaluation had confirmed that the outbreak, reported in commercial layers on 13 April 2021 in Gauteng, and on commercial broiler-breeders in the North West, seem to have been caused by non-identical AI strains. 

Ngcobo added that these two outbreaks were more likely to have been caused by separate introductions. 

"It is essential for everyone across the country to remain on high alert."

All increases in mortality rates must be reported to the state veterinarian responsible for the particular area or the relevant provincial director immediately. 

The contact details are available here.

"It must be mentioned that no human infection, due to these circulating strains, had been reported in Europe and, thus, the zoonotic risk to people is very low. The consumer has no reason to be concerned," the department said. 

READ | Highly contagious bird flu hits second farm near Joburg

Following the outbreak of AI on 13 April 2021, all neighbouring countries have lifted the ban on exports of live chicken and unprocessed products, except Lesotho, which has banned exports from Gauteng.

Hong Kong has also notified the department of a temporary suspension of the importation of all poultry (carcass, parts and offal) products, including eggs, from the affected municipalities within Gauteng and North West.

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