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Agriculture Dept working to contain bird flu outbreak in Mpumalanga

A nationwide ban on the sale of live hens has been implemented until the extent of the outbreak is assessed.

Picture: EWN

JOHANNESBURG – The Agriculture Department says it’s working to make sure that the outbreak of bird flu doesn’t spread to other areas in South Africa.

The department has confirmed a second case of avian flu in Mpumalanga, this time in Standerton.

A nationwide ban on the sale of live hens has been implemented until the extent of the outbreak is assessed.

It’s understood at least 25,000 birds have been culled so far.

The department’s Bomikazi Molapo says: “The virus is the same strain as the initial case that we had reported but the two farms are not directly linked, meaning that this is a separate introduction of influenza.”

Earlier this month, all trade was suspended in birds and chicken products from neighbouring Zimbabwe after it reported an outbreak of H5N8 at a commercial poultry farm.

Last Thursday, the World Organisation for Animal Health reported an outbreak on a commercial broiler breeder farm in Mpumalanga province, citing a report from the South African farm ministry.

Some 5,000 birds died of the highly contagious disease and the remainder at the 24,000-birds farm was in the process of being culled, the ministry said.

At the same time, Zimbabwe has imposed a ban on all South African poultry products after the outbreak in Mpumalanga last week.

Zimbabwe’s outbreak of the H5N8 strain of bird flu appears to have been contained and it is now taking no chances.

The state ZBC is reporting that Zimbabwe has banned all trade in birds and chicken products from South Africa.
That’s in response to last week’s outbreak of bird flu at farms in Mpumalanga, and in the Free State.

After Zimbabwe’s outbreak at a poultry farm near Harare in early June, more than 140,000 chickens had to be culled.

The ZBC says these restrictions on SA poultry products are to prevent a repeat of that.

Additional reporting by Reuters.