No human cases of avian flu in SA

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There have been no confirmed cases of bird flu in humans in SA‚ the National Institutes of Communicable Diseases (NICD) said on Wednesday.

Media reports that a learner in Centurion had been diagnosed with the disease were wrong‚ it said.

Highly pathogenic avian flu A (H5N8) emerged in SA in June‚ and has so far been identified in five provinces: Western Cape‚ Mpumalanga‚ Gauteng and‚ in two outbreaks announced on Wednesday‚ in KwaZulu-Natal and the North West.

The NICD said there had been 24 localised outbreaks — three in commercial ostriches‚ five in wild birds‚ three in pet birds‚ and three in backyard poultry‚ citing reports received by the World Organisation for Animal Health.

More cases of bird flu detected

The NICD it had been monitoring people who had been exposed to the virus on affected farms since the first outbreak was reported.

So far 60 workers exposed to infected birds had been tested‚ and none had tested positive for the disease‚ it said.

Poultry and poultry products on sale in retail outlets were safe for human consumption‚ it said.

On Wednesday‚ the Poultry Disease Management Agency at the South African Poultry Association said 60‚000 birds had been culled on a farm in Vryheid in northern KwaZulu-Natal.

Dr Ziyanda Majokweni‚ director of Poultry Disease Management Agency at the South African Poultry Association‚ said the virus was detected on a commercial layer poultry farm on August 17.

She said control measures as required by the state were being implemented on the farm‚ in the Abaqulusi municipality‚ which had been placed under quarantine.

Possible outbreak of bird flu in the Western Cape

Mjokweni said she was not aware of any other avian flu outbreaks in the province.

In Rustenburg‚ an outbreak was confirmed in wild ducks that were kept domestically.

The North West rural‚ environment and agricultural development department said about 60 other animals nearby‚ including canaries‚ swans and parrots‚ were at risk.

It said trading facilities were all more than 7km away from where the dead birds were found‚ but had been asked to tighten their bio-security measures.

BY TAMAR KAHN

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