MORE BIRD FLU OUTBREAKS
More bird flu breaks out
Following an outbreak of H5N8 highly pathogenic avian influenza reported by Astral Foods on a company farm in Standerton, Mpumalanga, more cases have been reported on commercial facilities, in backyard poultry and in wild birds.
Poultry producer RCL Foods became the latest victim when it reported an outbreak on the Viva farm near Muldersdrift in Gauteng, a relatively small breeder facility. The company says all chickens on this farm are being destroyed and the facility quarantined.
Dr Ziyanda Majokweni, director of SAPA’S Poultry Disease Management Agency (PDMA), says the Astral farm is a breeder facility with 48 houses. One of the houses was said to have infected birds.
“The farm has been quarantined and the national and provincial Departments of Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries have implemented the required control measures,” she said.
Despite the outbreaks on commercial farms over the past few weeks, Majokweni says the affected birds are still a very small percentage of the total South African chicken flock with very limited impact on the supply of poultry products. In 2016 South Africa produced approximately 1 billion broilers and approximately 8 billion eggs (24 million hens). The eggs grossed approximately R10-billion and broilers approximately R37-billion.
Despite the disease having affected countries in Europe, Asia as well as the USA since
2014, the local outbreaks are the first time the disease has been isolated in South Africa.
“SAPA, through the Poultry Disease Management Agency (PDMA) continues to monitor the situation closely and will continue to engage with DAFF and other relevant stakeholders such as the South African Veterinary Association (SAVA) on control measures for the disease,” she says. “Consumers are reminded that this strain has been found not to be dangerous to humans. This has been confirmed by the World Health Organisation and the World Organisation for Animal Health. The meat and eggs that are on the shelves are safe to eat as they have gone through a process of inspection and certified fit for human consumption.”
Majokweni adds that the PDMA has requested all affected parties to fully cooperate to prevent further spread of the current outbreak and to enhance the disease management efforts.
“Producers are once again urged to remain vigilant and ensure that biosecurity measures are adhered to, to reduce the risk of infection,” she says. “The public are requested to report any sightings of wild bird or backyard chicken mortalities.”¡