South Africa

Avian flu hits another Gauteng farm

Avian flu hits another Gauteng farm

Another East Rand poultry farm has been hit by avian influenza. 

On Monday, the SA Poultry Association (Sapa) said the outbreak occurred on a broiler breeder farm. The farm is under quarantine and the birds are being culled. Sapa said the outbreak should only have a minimal effect on meat supply.

The association said in a statement: “We regretfully advise that a second outbreak of HPAI (H5N1) has occurred on a broiler breeder farm ... The farm is under quarantine and the birds are being culled and disposed of under the department of agriculture, land reform and rural development's supervision.

“This outbreak is in the same compartment as the first layer outbreak, and should not materially affect the trade restrictions already in place from our neighbouring countries.

“The effects on the ongoing supply of broiler meat are minimal, and consumers are assured that broiler meat and eggs remain safe to eat provided proper cooking protocols are observed with temperatures exceeding 60°C achieved.”

A commercial layer flock on the East Rand of Johannesburg was the first to confirm an outbreak of H5N1 on April 13.

This was the first outbreak of avian influenza on a commercial farm since 2017 when there was an outbreak of avian influenza H5N8.

H5N8 had a significant effect on the layer industry and also marginally affected the broiler industry.

In April, Sapa said the industry had been placed on high alert and the appropriate biosecurity contingency plans had been implemented. A restriction had been placed on people and bird movement for both bigger companies and SMMEs.

A widespread outbreak of the avian influenza virus now in Europe was first confirmed in October 2020.

Last month Sapa said the northern European countries had been predominantly affected. “However, these outbreaks have not caused as much of a loss to the poultry industry as the previous large-scale outbreaks of 2015 and 2017, due to lessons learnt previously.

“The role of migratory wild birds in the spread of the virus has been previously proven, and containment of poultry flocks in covered environments is recommended to avoid possible contamination as far as possible.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the risk from H5N1 is low in people but sporadic human infections with Asian H5N1 virus have occurred, primarily in Asia and Africa. Most human infections with Asian H5N1 viruses in other countries have occurred after prolonged and close contact with infected sick or dead birds.

They recommend that people only observe wild birds from a distance, avoid contact with domestic birds which appear to be ill or have died, and avoid contact with surfaces which appear to be contaminated with faeces from birds.