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Avian flu now detected in Western Cape

07 May 2021 - 09:17 By TimesLIVE
Commercial chicken production. File image.
Commercial chicken production. File image.
Image: 123RF/DUYBOX

Avian flu has been detected at a broiler breeder farm in the Worcester area, sparking a call for Western Cape farmers and producers to be vigilant.

This comes after outbreaks of the highly pathogenic avian influenza in Gauteng and North West.

“The affected farm is under quarantine, and the process of humanely culling the affected chickens is under way,” said the provincial agriculture department.

Avian influenza is a viral respiratory disease of birds 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 discharges from their noses, mouth and eyes. Domestic birds can be infected through faecal contamination of the environment from wild birds or by indirect contact with infected poultry on other premises.

There is no vaccine or treatment for highly pathogenic avian influenza. Current practice in most regions of the world requires the culling of infected birds.

The Western Cape government said it is essential to report sick or dead birds - both wild birds and poultry to the chief state veterinarian.

It advised farmers and poultry producers to be vigilant in their biosecurity measures to prevent potential virus introduction from wild birds or their faeces and to restrict access to their properties as far as possible.

“It is crucial to keep poultry and other animals away from wild birds and their body fluids through screens, fencing or nets. Avoid introducing the virus through contaminated clothes, footwear, vehicles, or equipment used in waterfowl hunting. Upon entering or exiting properties, disinfect vehicles. Do not allow any person who had contact with poultry in the last 48 hours onto your property. Use of footbaths upon entry and exit to the poultry house to disinfect footwear.”

The department advised consumers there is no indication that this strain of avian influenza can affect humans.

“We advise caution when handling or slaughtering potentially infected poultry. Poultry workers, abattoir workers and those who dress their poultry should only handle dead bird carcasses with gloves or disinfect their hands after handling carcasses.

“Poultry products from grocery stores are safe for consumption.”

Five cases of avian flu have been detected in Gauteng and the North West.