State steps in
Following the latest H5N8 bird flu outbreaks in five of South Africa’s nine provinces, Senzeni Zokwana, Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries said that while the disease had sent “shockwaves” through the poultry industry, measures have been put in place to contain it.
Zokwana said that DAFF, the state veterinary services, and local poultry producers were working non-stop to curb the virus.
“The economic importance of poultry is highlighted by the fact that in the 2016 production cycle, broiler and egg production was still the largest segment of SA agriculture in Rand value at 18%,” he said. “So far, 24 outbreaks have been detected – 10 in commercial chickens, three in ostriches, three in backyard chickens and eight in wild birds and birds kept as a hobby.”
He added that both the OIE and the WHO have confirmed that the H5N8 virus does not pose a threat to human health following reported outbreaks in 47 countries.
“The department of Health has tested workers on affected farms and there has not been a single case of human infections,” he said.
Zokwana says a task team consisting of representatives from the industry and government to work on scientifically-based considerations regarding vaccination.
“Negotiations are also ongoing to find a way to provide an incentive for farmers who have experienced massive losses due to the destruction of healthy birds and eggs to eradicate the disease.”
The Minister says government is committed to supporting the poultry sector, and more information will be provided at the end of September.¡