More than 130 000 birds culled in Western Cape due to avian flu
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Cape Town - Despite calls for poultry farms to be vigilant, the number of farms that have been infected with the avian influenza virus has risen to four.
Western Cape MEC for Agriculture Ivan Meyer said that the infected farms are situated near Worcester, Malmesbury and Hopefield.
“Two farms have been confirmed to have H5 highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI), though laboratory confirmation is still pending for the other two farms.”
The cases comes after the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development earlier in the month announced outbreaks in Gauteng and the North West, which spokesperson Reggie Ngcobo said seemed to have been caused by non-identical strains.
Meyer however said that the connection between the cases in the province and that in the north are not established.
“The relationship to the viruses present in the north of the country is unconfirmed,” Meyer said.
“The total number of birds that have been culled or have died from HPAI totals approximately 134 000. Western Cape Veterinary Services is in the process of investigating other suspected cases.”
Strains of the avian influenza virus recently identified in South Africa carry a low risk for human infection. However, humans can transmit the virus from sick birds to other birds on their clothes and hands.
People are therefore advised to handle all dead birds with gloves and wash their hands afterwards.
Meyer has added that poultry meat and eggs remain safe to eat.
The Western Cape Department of Agriculture has also urged the public to be vigilant and report unusual mortalities in any birds to their local state veterinarian.