While at least three provinces now have confirmed cases of avian influenza on poultry farms, Hong Kong has now also temporarily suspended the importation of all poultry products from affected municipalities in Gauteng and North West. This includes the carcass, parts and offal of chickens as well as eggs.
This comes as another commercial chicken farm in Randfontein in Gauteng last night confirmed an outbreak of avian influenza, hours after the Western Cape department of agriculture confirmed an outbreak on a Worcester farm.
Following a bird flu outbreak in April, all of Mzansi’s neighbouring countries have lifted the ban on exports of live chicken and unprocessed products, except for Lesotho, which has banned exports from Gauteng.
Five outbreaks were previously confirmed, with three in the Gauteng province, and one in North West. All the affected farms have been quarantined, and control measures have been implemented. At the moment, the culling of birds are underway on an infected Worcester farm.
“Genetic evaluation has confirmed that the outbreak reported in commercial layers on 13 of April in Gauteng and the one on commercial broiler-breeders in the North West seem to have been caused by non-identical AI (avian influenza) strains,” says the “department of agriculture, land reform and rural development.
‘Low infection risk to humans’
“These two outbreaks were therefore more likely to have been caused by separate introductions. It is essential for everyone across the country to remain on high alert.
“Everyone across the country is once again urged to treat any increase in mortalities [deaths] of poultry and other bird species as potential avian influenza, until proven otherwise. All increases in mortality rates must be reported to the state veterinarian responsible for the particular area or the relevant provincial director immediately.”
The department has issued contact details which farmers and members of the public can use to report cases of avian influenza across the country.
“It must be mentioned that no human infection, due to these circulating strains, had been reported in Europe and thus the zoonotic risk to people is very low, the consumer has no reason to be concerned,” the department adds.