5 000 chick­ens culled as bird flu hits EC farm

Daily Dispatch - - Front Page - By SIYA TSEWU

AROUND 5 000 chick­ens have been culled in a Uiten­hage farm as bird flu hit the prov­ince this week.

Sov­er­eign Foods, which sources chick­ens from the af­fected farm in Uiten­hage, has con­firmed through a PR com­pany that they have de­tected avian in­fluenza (AI).

The East­ern Cape de­part­ment of ru­ral de­vel­op­ment and agrar­ian re­form also con­firmed the out­break last night.

In a press state­ment yes­ter­day, Sov­er­eign Foods said: “Ap­prox­i­mately 5 000 birds have been culled, which rep­re­sents ap­prox­i­mately 1% of Uite pro­duc­tion pipe­line.

“Sov­er­eign Foods’ man­age­ment is cur­rently tak­ing the ap­pro­pri­ate steps and fol­low­ing the pre­scribed pro­to­cols to pre­vent AI from spread­ing to other farms.”

Sov­er­eign Foods has been farm­ing chick­ens in the East­ern Cape since 1948. They are the fourth largest pro­ducer in South Africa, and the home of Coun­try Range chicken.

Provin­cial ru­ral de­vel­op­ment and agrar­ian re­form spokesman Mvusi­wekhaya Sicwet­sha said his de­part­ment had been in­formed of the out­break.

The de­part­ment’s provin­cial vet­eri­nary ser­vices chief di­rec­tor, Dr Luba­balo Mr­webi, said: “The af­fected es­tab­lish­ment is un­der strict quar­an­tine.

“There is also a 30km ra­dius that will ap­ply where birds within that ra­dius will be un­der sur­veil­lance.”

In June, the coun­try learnt of the ban­ning of the sale of live chick­ens af­ter out­breaks at two farms in Mpumalanga.

Dr Karin Blig­naut, a con­sul­tant in the food in­dus­try, urged mem­bers of the pub­lic to keep away from buy­ing live birds, and she em­pha­sised that it was not only chick­ens that were af­fected, but all birds.

“The strain that is cur­rently in the coun­try is only af­fect­ing live birds, and this means that chick­ens that are al­ready in stores are fine.

“Birds that seem dis­ori­en­tated or dead birds are a def­i­nite no-go,” she said.

Blig­naut said the in­fluenza was spread through mi­grat­ing birds.

“If peo­ple find any kind of dead bird they should con­tact the de­part­ment of agri­cul­ture,” Blig­naut con­cluded. —

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