SA halts poultry trade with Zim after bird flu outbreak
SOUTH Africa has suspended all trade in live poultry, meat and table eggs with Zimbabwe.
This was contained in a statement released yesterday by the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries’ Veterinary Services.
The department said it was notified last Friday of an outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI, “bird flu”) in one of the commercial chicken flocks in Zimbabwe. It said the virus had been typed as H5N8.
Avian influenza is fatal in affected birds, with an estimated 70percent death rate.
South Africa keeps a close eye on the notifications reported to the World Organisation for Animal Health by trade partners.
“South Africa immediately suspended all trade in live poultry, meat and table eggs and communicated this to the Zimbabwean chief veterinary officer,” the statement said.
The department said South Africa imported very little product from Zimbabwe, all importers were immediately notified that their import permits – any permits which had not been used – should be returned to the department with immediate effect.
“We have heightened inspections of all consignments, including all private and public vehicles at all our ports of entry, especially in and out of Zimbabwe.
“The Limpopo Veterinary Authorities are on high alert and have increased their surveillance, especially of backyard chickens. Communities must be extremely vigilant, especially in areas of Limpopo that neighbour Zimbabwe and report any unusual mortality of chickens or other birds to the State Veterinary Services immediately for samples to be collected,” the department said.
The department encouraged keepers of chickens, geese and ducks – including backyard farmers – to observe minimum biosecurity measures to prevent this disease spreading among their birds, such as limiting exposure to wild birds by providing feed and water indoors or at least well underneath a low, solid roof.
Care should be taken to prevent chickens drinking from common water sources where wild birds congregate.
Commercial farmers were also encouraged to increase their biosecurity measures on farms, including limiting access to people who might have had contact with birds and chickens outside the farm.
The department said clinical and serological surveillance should also be increased and any abnormal morbidity and mortalities reported to State Veterinary Services.
It said South Africa had prohibited vaccination of chicken against Notifiable Avian Influenza and no vaccine against this disease was registered in the country.
No farmer should allow their chickens to be vaccinated, the department said.
Chickens huddle in their cages at an egg processing plant. South Africa has suspended all trade in chickens with Zimbabwe.