The outbreak of avian flu could have long-term ramifications, industry experts say. Photo: Supplied

JOHANNESBURG - Poultry producers RCL Foods and Quantum Foods reported cases of an outbreak of the highly pathogenic H5N8 strain of avian influenza (AI) in their separate farms in the Western Cape.

RCL’s outbreak was detected yesterday at the company’s Heuningdal breeder farm, situated between Malmesbury and Darling, after also having experienced a small outbreak at its Viva breeder farm near Muldersdrift in Gauteng.

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“The affected sites have been depopulated, and the loss amounts to approximately 5 percent of the company’s total breeder stock. The cumulative direct costs associated with AI amount to approximately R26 million, and the company is evaluating all opportunities to minimise the possible impact of this reduced volume,” RCL Foods said.

AI has been spreading across South Africa, with over 50 reported cases since June 2017. Quantum Foods said the outbreak happened at its two layer houses in the Western Cape and it only affects 9 percent of the group’s current national table egg supply.

Both companies said the sites will be quarantined and depopulated. The companies will also continue to relentlessly implement the strictest possible biosecurity measures at all sites to safeguard the health of its flocks.