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First Eastern Cape case of Bird Flu detected on Uitenhage farm - 5 000 birds culled

Sep 14, 2017
First Eastern Cape case of Bird Flu detected on Uitenhage farm - 5 000 birds culled

South Africa's fourth largest integrated poultry producer Sovereign Foods, which is based in Uitenhage, on Thursday announced that it has detected the avian influenza (AI) at a single layer house on a farm that forms part of the company’s broader Uitenhage operations.  

"Approximately 5 000 birds have been culled, which represent approximately 1% of Uitenhage’s production pipeline," the company said in a brief statement.

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

"The Hartbeespoort operation in Gauteng remains unaffected."

New cases of the Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) H5N8 were reported to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) in August.

The new cases were reported in Western Cape, Mpumalanga and North West provinces bringing the total number of outbreaks to 24 since June 2017.  

Ten outbreaks were confirmed in commercial chickens, three in commercial ostrich, five in wild birds, three in birds that were kept as a hobby and three outbreaks were confirmed in backyard poultry.

Spokesperson for Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Ministry, Bomikazi Molapo, said then that all affected properties have been placed under quarantine and disease control measures have commenced.

“The continued cooperation of the public and the poultry industry, in the timeous reporting of sick and dying birds to Government Veterinary Services, is vital for the effectiveness of disease control measures instituted. The department therefore, thanks the public and the poultry industry for their support in this regard,” Molapo said.

In August, the Western Cape Department of Agriculture confirmed the presence of HPAI on a commercial layer poultry farm.

The farm has been placed under quarantine and over 10 000 chickens have already died and culling of the rest at the farm and composting of mortalities has already been started.

Authorities said that the possible cause for that outbreak was most likely through contact with wild birds.  

Avian influenza is a viral respiratory disease amongst birds, believed to be transmitted by wild migratory birds.

It is primarily spread by direct contact between healthy and infected birds, or through indirect contact with contaminated equipment or other materials.

The virus is present in the faeces of infected birds and in discharges from their noses, mouth and eyes.

The H5N8 strain of the disease has already wreaked havoc in the poultry industry in Zimbabwe where thousands of commercial birds have died or had to be culled.