Avian flu: 2.5 million chicks, ducks culled
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.
RUFFLED: World of Birds in Hout Bay is fighting the disease and beginning to see positive results.