We have placed a temporary ban on all live chicken trading on our site. This comes after the Department of Agriculture, Forestry & Fisheries has placed a general ban on the sale of live spent hens across the country until further notice due to a recent outbreak of Avian Influenza (Bird Flu) in Mpumalanga.
An outbreak of the H5N8 virus was first announced in Zimbabwe on 2 June 2017, and on 22 June it was confirmed to have spread to South Africa and severely affect a farm and broiler breeder site in Mpumalanga.
Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) H5N8 is an extremely contagious, rapidly spreading viral disease that can affect various types of birds. It exists in many birds naturally and can be transmitted by coming into contact with infected animals, food or water.
The affected property in Mpumalanga has twelve self-contained sites with approximately 285 000 birds, and one of the contained sites with 24 000 birds has tested positive for H5N8. The Department has agreed with the company to humanely euthanise the birds in affected houses in collaboration with the NSPCA.
As part of the emergency response, the farm has immediately been placed under quarantine and the Mpumalanga Veterinary Authorities are currently on the farm, assisting with quarantine implementation, culling and disinfection of the farm. The Department and State Veterinary services are closely monitoring this breeder site and other farms within a 30 kilometer radius in Mpumalanga and the Free State. All other provinces have also been notified of the outbreak and are on high alert.
It is suspected that the outbreak was caused by wild birds on the banks of the Vaal River carrying the influenza virus to the nearby farm.
Currently, no human cases of Avian Influenza H5N8 infection have been reported, however, those handling sick or dying poultry are strongly advised to wash their hands with disinfectants and wear protective clothing as preventative measures. The Department urges people to avoid consumption of birds found sick, dying or dead at all costs. Meat from healthy poultry is still safe for consumption, however, as it is subjected to stringent inspection processes at South African abattoirs.
An effective treatment for the disease hasn’t been found yet, and Avian Influenza vaccination is illegal in South Africa as vaccinated birds mask the disease which can create an endemic situation.
The Department says that infected animals must be humanely euthanised and disposed of properly to prevent the disease from further spreading. If you are a farmer and suspect that your flock has contracted the disease, quarantine the affected birds and area immediately and notify your nearest State Veterinarian as soon as possible.
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