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Wild birds suspected source of avian flu outbreak in WC

Earlier this week, the Western Cape Agriculture Department said it has placed two ostrich farms in the Heidelberg area under quarantine.

FILE: The Western Cape Agriculture Department has placed two ostrich farms under quarantine. Picture: EWN.

CAPE TOWN - The Ostrich Business Chamber says it suspects wild birds are the source of the outbreak of avian flu in the Heidelberg area.

Earlier this week, the Western Cape Agriculture Department said it has placed two ostrich farms in the area under quarantine after the Highly Pathogenic Avian influenza (HPAI), type H5N8, virus reared its head.

There are about 1,000 ostriches on both farms.

Farms within a three-kilometre radius of the affected farms are also under quarantine, while heat-treated ostrich meat from farms within a 10-kilometre radius has been prohibited from being exported.

No decision to cull has been taken and discussions are ongoing.

Ostrich and chicken meat, which is safe for human consumption, continues to be on sale in stores.

Chamber CEO Piet Kleyn said: “The rest of the country can still continue to export heat-treated meat to mainly the EU. It’s unfortunate that because of the cases we can’t export fresh meat, and that also affects the situation for all the farmers around the country and the poultry also suffers because of that..”

(Edited by Zamangwane Shange)