Ostrich farmers face bird flu outbreak

Ostrich farmers face yet another bird flu outbreak after an Oudtshoorn farm was quarantined.

A juvenile ostrich on an Oudtshoorn farm. Picture: Aletta Gardner/EWN

CAPE TOWN - The Western Cape ostrich industry has been dealt yet another blow.

Western Cape agriculture officials are carrying out tests to determine if a bird flu outbreak at an Oudtshoorn ostrich farm has spread.

The first positive case of Avian influenza in two years in the country was picked up on Tuesday.

Farmers in the Klein Karoo are still struggling under a European Union (EU) ban on ostrich meat exports following an initial outbreak of Avian flu in 2011.

The outbreak of the H7N1 strain of bird flu on an Oudtshoorn farm could mean the EU ban on ostrich meat exports will not be lifted.

However the Western Cape Agriculture Department's Wouter Kriel said the farm in question has been quarantined.

"There's a three kilometre zone around the outbreak farm and all ostrich holdings in this zone will be sampled and tested for the presence of the virus."

Experts said while the H7 N1 can infect humans they were quick to add there's no imminent danger for now.

Ostrich farmers have also been struggling recently with criminals who have targeted more than 100 ostriches in recent weeks for their feathers.