Western Cape sees rise in number of Avian flu cases

The provincial Economic Opportunities Department says 2.7 million birds have been culled, the majority were layer hens.

FILE: Some 144 ostrich farms are currently under quarantine. Picture: EWN.

CAPE TOWN - There has been a spike in the number of reported Avian flu cases in the Western Cape.

There are currently 56 confirmed cases of bird flu in the province, six more cases than was recorded the previous week.

The provincial Economic Opportunities Department says 2.7 million birds have been culled, of which the majority were layer hens.

Some 144 ostrich farms are currently under quarantine, but no ostriches have been culled as a result of the outbreak.

Apart from the R800 million in production losses, a further R75 million loss in the cull buyer market is expected.

The Western Cape Local Government and Environmental Affairs Department says the province is monitoring the ongoing situation daily and is working hard to curb the impact and any further spread of the disease.

Earlier this week, the SA Poultry Association said egg production tumbled to 17% and over 1,000 workers lost their jobs in the wake of an outbreak of Avian flu.

It said commercial egg production per day dropped to 17 million from 20.4 million after an outbreak of the H5N8 virus was detected in June.

The impact of the virus on the poultry industry also poses a risk for food price inflation.

Additional reporting by Tara Penny.