Following earlier announcements of outbreaks of the highly pathogenic avian influenza in Gauteng and North West, a broiler breeder farm in the Worcester area has tested positive for avian influenza.
Avian influenza is a controlled disease in terms of the Animal Diseases Act, 35 of 1984.
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.
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There is currently no vaccine or treatment for highly pathogenic avian influenza. Current practice in most regions of the world requires the culling of infected birds.
The affected farm is under quarantine, and the process of humanely culling the affected chickens is underway.
The Western Cape Government urges the participation of the public and the agricultural sector in preventing the spread of this disease.
It is essential to report sick or dead birds – both wild birds and poultry to Chief State Veterinarian, , Dr Lesley van Helden on 021 808 5017 or Lesleyvh@elsenburg.com.
Farmers and poultry producers should be vigilant in their biosecurity measures to prevent potential virus introduction from wild birds or their faeces.
Farmers should also 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.
There is currently no indication that this strain of avian influenza can affect humans.
We do 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.