Avian flu: 2.5 mil­lion chicks, ducks culled

Cape Times - - NEWS - Lisa Isaacs

SINCE the out­break of Avian flu was first con­firmed in the prov­ince in Au­gust, 2.5 mil­lion chick­ens and ducks have been culled, while the num­ber of con­firmed case has risen to 50.

Eco­nomic Op­por­tu­ni­ties MEC Alan Winde said he was ad­vised this week that the Depart­ment of Agri­cul­ture, Forestry and Fish­eries (Daff) is still con­sid­er­ing the in­dus­try’s ap­pli­ca­tion for vac­ci­na­tion.

The depart­ment is also fi­nal­is­ing dis­cus­sions on pos­si­ble fi­nan­cial sup­port. Of­fi­cials will also be brief­ing the cab­i­net next week on the im­pact of the drought and avian flu on agri­cul­ture.

“This is a dif­fi­cult time for our poul­try in­dus­try. Some farm­ers are faced with the pos­si­bil­ity of hav­ing to close down their busi­nesses.

“Work­ers are wor­ried about their liveli­hoods and be­ing able to pro­vide for their fam­i­lies,” said Winde.

“We know the im­pact on food se­cu­rity is also likely to be sig­nif­i­cant. This is why we are com­mit­ted to work­ing with Daff and the in­dus­try to save our poul­try in­dus­try.”

The dis­ease was spread­ing rapidly de­spite in­creased con­trol mea­sures, he said.

“Many farm­ers have been proac­tive with test­ing their broods for early de­tec­tion of AI and culling them quickly in re­sponse to pos­i­tive tests.

“Some of the farm­ers have also put down lime around their prop­er­ties to try and pre­vent the virus from spread­ing.”

Winde dis­missed mes­sages on so­cial me­dia that a lo­cal re­tailer had pulled eggs from stock due to an out­break of the flu.

At World of Birds, the largest bird park in Africa with more than 3 000 species, man­ager and co-owner Hen­drik Louw said the park was fight­ing the dis­ease and be­gin­ning to see pos­i­tive re­sults.

“We’ve learnt more about the in­fluenza and how to deal with it. We haven’t had any birds dy­ing in eight or nine days,” Louw said.

Al­most 200 birds had been culled at the fa­cil­ity.

“We have lost a blue crane al­ready and we’ve taken sam­ples of our other blue cranes.

“Of the birds tested, one blue crane and one black swan have tested pos­i­tive. They are still alive.”

Louw said they are be­ing held in quar­an­tined ar­eas where the public is not al­lowed, ex­cept for three staff mem­bers who care for them.

“We have seen a drop in peo­ple com­ing to the fa­cil­ity even though hu­mans can­not get the virus,” Louw said.

“I’ve been in the park for 23 years and this is the first time we’ve had to deal with some­thing like this.

“State vets have as­sisted us won­der­fully through this,” he said.

Pic­ture: EPA-EFE

RUF­FLED: World of Birds in Hout Bay is fight­ing the dis­ease and be­gin­ning to see pos­i­tive re­sults.

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