SA halts poul­try trade with Zim af­ter bird flu out­break

The Star Early Edition - - NEWS - Sizwe Dlamini

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.

Ex­po­sure

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.

PHOTO: AP

Chick­ens hud­dle in their cages at an egg pro­cess­ing plant. South Africa has sus­pended all trade in chick­ens with Zim­babwe.

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