Agriculture department bans Mpumalanga ‘spent hens’ amid bird flu outbreak

The department encourages people not eat any dead or sick birds and avoid buying bird meat from flea markets.

Chicken. Picture: sxc.hu

JOHANNESBURG – The agriculture ministry is discouraging people from buying so-called ‘spent hens’ in Mpumalanga in order to avoid the further spread of the outbreak of avian influenza, otherwise known as bird flu.

The department says spent hens are the ones usually sold at flea markets and should be avoided.

It says the outbreak is under control.

While there is no cure for the influenza the department says the birds affected are being euthanised.

The ministry says they have not received word on any cases of avian influenza affecting human beings in South Africa.

The department encourages people not eat any dead or sick birds and avoid buying bird meat from flea markets.

Spokesperson Bomikazi Molapo says, “Normally the farmer would send the spent hens to the guy on the bakkie, and those guys then sell them at the markets – those are banned. We don’t want people to be buying any of those.”

She says workers who deal with infected chickens on the farm affected are encouraged to take effective safety measures.

“The guys who work with those infected chickens might also be affected.”

At least 5,000 birds have died of the highly contagious disease.

The department has asked farmers to adhere to the security measures to contain the disease.