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Many WC farms struggling to deal with avian flu outbreak

State vet Aileen Pypers says this is the first time the province is dealing with the highly pathogenic avian influenza in the poultry industry.

A chicken farm. Picture: Freeimages.com

CAPE TOWN - More than 200,000 chickens have died or been culled since the outbreak of bird flu in the Western Cape.

Economic Opportunities MEC Alan Winde and the state vet has given an update on the status of the disease.

Since the first case was reported in the province on the 9 August, 16 more cases have been confirmed.

There are an estimated 29 million birds in the commercial poultry sector in the Western Cape.

State vet Aileen Pypers says this is the first time the province is dealing with the highly pathogenic avian influenza in the poultry industry.

“So our poultry industry is, I think, a little bit unprepared for this. Many of the farms have got contingency plans in place, but many of them have been caught unawares with no contingency plans of how they are going to deal with this, how they are going to dispose of carcasses.”

The industry has already seen job losses as a result of the outbreak.

Winde adds a shortage of poultry products will also put pressure on food prices.

WATCH: 17 Confirmed cases of avian flu in WC

PROVINCE-WIDE SURVEY

The Western Cape Economic Opportunities Department says vets are conducting province-wide survey and surveillance programmes, since the outbreak of bird flu.

Officials have put several control measures in place at poultry and ostrich farms.Forty-six ostrich farms, situated in Heidelberg and Oudtshoorn, have been placed under quarantine.

Pypers says as part of control measures the slaughtering of birds is only allowed after a farm has tested negative.

Officials say access to properties under quarantine should be restricted as far as possible.

As a further control measure, the state vet has this week launched an interactive survey with farmers and bird owners in areas surrounding affected properties.

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