Zim on the lookout for avian influenza

Harare (New Ziana) – The veterinary services department has said it was on high alert following an outbreak of avian influenza in neighboring South Africa last week.

The avian flu was detected at a farm in East Rand in Gauteng Province where over 300 birds have since died, resulting in the farm being placed under quarantine.

Botswana has already banned poultry imports from South Africa.

The animal health authority said it was closely monitoring the situation in South Africa.

“We are on high alert following reported cases of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza in South Africa,” it said in a tweet.

“We encourage all our stakeholders to follow set protocols on importation of poultry products, strict bio-security measures should be adhered to across all poultry farms.”

Estimates were that South Africa would export poultry products amounting to 51 000 tonnes this year, mainly to neighbouring countries.

According to the SA Poultry Association, the country also imports poultry products worth US$403 million annually.

This is the second time that a commercial layer chicken farm in Ekurhuleni has been hit by avian influenza, following an outbreak of the H5N8 strain in 2017 which resulted in the culling of millions of birds and import bans from Botswana, Namibia and Zimbabwe.

The World Health Organisation and the World Organisation of Animals say the virus poses little threat to human beings.

This time around, the SA Poultry Association expects fewer losses from the current outbreak compared to the previous one in 2017.
New Ziana

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