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By Faizel Patel

Senior Digital Journalist

Western Cape farms under quarantine after bird flu outbreak

Poultry farmers including those with birds kept pets or for zoo purposes are urged to adhere to strict biosecurity measures.

The Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development has confirmed that a total of five Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) or bird flu cases have been detected at commercial chickens farms in the Western Cape.

The department shared the update on the outbreak of HPAI on Tuesday.


The deparment spokesperson, Reggie Ngcobo, said they have taken action against the outbreak of bird flu in the Western Cape.

 “All affected farms have been immediately placed under quarantine and no live animals/birds and eggs are allowed to be removed from the farm. The department would like to reassure consumers that commercial poultry meat and eggs are safe to eat.

“Care should however be taken when preparing food to avoid other food-borne pathogens,” Ngcobo said.

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Ngcobo said birds infected with bird flu get sick fairly quickly and die.

“Generally, the first sign of sick animals, including birds, is drop in production, meaning that sick birds will produce very few (if any) eggs. This, together with the added mitigation of placing farms under quarantine, means no eggs from infected properties will make their way to shelves.

“We strongly encourage all poultry farmers including those with birds kept as a hobby or for zoo purposes to adhere to strict biosecurity measures to prevent the introduction of HPAI. We also urge farmers and individuals to report any suspected outbreak to any private or state veterinarian,” he said.

HPAI outbreaks

HPAI outbreaks have been occurring worldwide and were detected in poultry in other South African provinces earlier this yearand throughout 2022.

Avian influenza or bird flu is a viral disease spread by direct contact between healthy and infected birds or through indirect contact with contaminated equipment or other materials.

Symptoms and treatment

The virus is present in infected birds’ faeces and discharges from their noses, mouth and eyes. In addition, domestic birds can be infected through faecal contamination of the environment from wild birds or by indirect contact with infected poultry on other premises.

There is currently no vaccine or treatment for highly pathogenic avian influenza.

As a result, current practice in much of the world requires culling infected birds as quickly as possible to limit the spread of the disease.

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