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WC Agriculture Dept dealing with 26 confirmed cases of bird flu

The first case of the Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza, strain H5N8 virus in the Western Cape was detected in August in the Heidelberg area on two ostrich farms.

FILE: Cases of bird flu have been confirmed in the Western Cape. Picture: www.elsenburg.com

CAPE TOWN - The Western Cape Agriculture Department is dealing with 26 confirmed cases of bird flu in the province.

And by the end of this week, about two million chickens and ducks would have been culled as a result of the outbreaks.

The first case of the highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) strain H5N8 virus in the province was detected last month in the Heidelberg area on two ostrich farms.

The department’s Petro van Rhyn said this is the first time the poultry industry is affected by avian influenza.

“Previously it only affected ostriches… and going forward, we will continue to work with the private sector to mitigate the impact of the disease. The decision to vaccinate can only be made by the Department of the Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.”

Van Rhyn adds that the department has partnered with the Provincial Disaster Management Centre to establish a joint operations centre.

“This centre is implementing our risk mitigation and support strategy. Part of the centre’s focus is also assistance to employees and affected farms as well as an investigation into the economic implications of this outbreak.”

(Edited by Zamangwane Shange)