Ban on sale of live poultry will also affect street trade

Kevin Lovell‚ CEO of the SA Poultry Association said the disease is introduced to poultry by wild birds. File photo.
Kevin Lovell‚ CEO of the SA Poultry Association said the disease is introduced to poultry by wild birds. File photo. Image: Gallo Images/iStockphoto
Government on Monday introduced a countrywide ban on the sale of live poultry in a bid to contain an outbreak of the highly contagious bird flu.

The ban comes after the highly pathogenic avian influenza H5N8 was confirmed in a broiler breeder site in Mpumalanga on June 22.

H5N8 is a rapidly spreading viral disease that can infect many types of birds and it is highly contagious. It exists naturally in many birds and can be transmitted by coming into contact with infected animals or through ingestion of infected food or water.

“The affected farm has been quarantined and culling of the affected animals has been completed. The department [of agriculture‚ forestry and fisheries] is conducting forward and backward tracing to trace movement of all poultry in and out of the farm in order to establish the source of the Influenza.

The department has established a 30km control zone in Mpumalanga and Free State. The two provinces are conducting surveillance in the 30km control zone for other potentially affected properties. All provinces have been notified and are on high alert‚” the Department of Agriculture‚ Forestry and Fisheries said in a statement.

Kevin Lovell‚ CEO of the SA Poultry Association said the disease is introduced to poultry by wild birds.

“It is normally introduced by… water birds. Once it is in poultry‚ it can then spread …As a precautionary measure‚ government then says let us stop live sales‚ to minimise the risk of the disease spreading. Many businesses will be affected by the ban. It will be largely smaller farmers who sell live birds and also people who sell live chicken in the township areas who will suffer the most.

“Realistically‚ there is a chance of spread of the disease through those sales. We need to assess how big the chance is. This particular type of avian influenza is found more often in birds…that have been alive for quite a while and not the baby chicks‚” said Lovell.

“Realistically‚ there is a chance of spread of the disease through those sales. We need to assess how big the chance is. This particular type of avian influenza is found more often in birds…that have been alive for quite a while and not the baby chicks‚” said Lovell.

He added that government would be meeting the poultry industry and other affected sectors on Tuesday to further devise strategies to deal with the disease.

“We have a meeting tomorrow with government where we will discuss a lot of emergency planning issues. One of them is how to strike the balance between disease management and financial risk. There are a couple of scientific tests that we are going to discuss tomorrow. It is part of a cooperative system where the industry and government work together in disease outbreak.”

Other means being taken to contain the H5N8 include:

  • a complete standstill of movement of poultry and poultry products on the infected farm(s);
  • birds at the infected sites will be euthanised humanely;
  • state vets are conducting inspections starting with all the farms within a 3 km and a further 27 km (30km) radius around the affected farm to gather information on the health status of the birds; and
  • poultry and poultry products may only move from these farms with a State Veterinary Permit.

BY PENWELL DLAMINI

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