South Africa’s first outbreak of avian influenza (bird flu) has been recorded on a farm in Mpumalanga and it’s been reported to have affected around 24 000 birds according to Business Day reports.
Wild birds are also believed to be affected in the farm situated on the banks of the Vaal River in the provincial boundary.
The Department of Agriculture‚ Forestry and Fisheries spokesperson Bomikazi Molapo, on Wednesday, announced that the South African Veterinary Authority had been notified of a high number of deaths of a breeder flock in Villiers, near the Mpumalanga provincial border.
Over 285 birds have been affected in the area and the emergency services will continue to monitor the farm.
“The affected property has 12 self-contained sites with a total of approximately 285 000 birds, and so far only one self-contained site, with approximately 24 000 birds has been affected. As part of the emergency response, the farm has been placed under quarantine and veterinary services will continue to monitor the farm,” says Molapo.
According to SA Breaking News, the department, and company, in collaboration with the NSPCA, have agreed to euthanize the birds in the affected houses. She said that samples collected from the farm yielded a positive result for a highly pathogenic avian influenza, H5N8.
She explained that culling the birds was the only way to stop the spread of the disease, as vaccination was not allowed by law.
“There are several reasons for not allowing vaccination of chickens‚ and the most pertinent are that vaccinated birds mask the disease and therefore create an endemic situation; surveillance for the absence of disease is also impossible in vaccinated birds as they all test positive,” Molapo explained.
The department has alerted poultry owners and provided them with biosecurity measures to be followed and details of how surveillance is to be conducted.
Earlier this month, an outbreak of bird flu in Zimbabwe forced the country’s largest poultry company to cull around 140 000 birds.
South Africa, along with Mozambique and Botswana moved swiftly to ban poultry imports from Zimbabwe in an effort to protect their poultry products