Picture: Simphiwe Mbokazi

Cape Town - The number of confirmed cases of avian influenza in the province has risen to 50, according to the Western Cape government. 

Since the outbreak was confirmed in the province, around 2.5 millions chickens and ducks. 

This includes:
·         2.4 million layer birds
·         73 000 breeder birds
·         32 600 ducks

The Western Cape government and the national Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (Daff) are still working to find solutions to the outbreak.

South Africa has been hard hit by this virus.

Western Cape Economic Opportunities MEC Alan Winde was briefed by the Daff's director-general and the head of Daff's veterinary services this week.

“I have been advised that DAFF is still considering the industry’s application for vaccination. They are also finalising discussions on possible financial support. Here in the Western Cape, our officials will also be briefing Cabinet next week on the impact of threats like drought and avian influenza on agriculture. These issues will be considered when drafting our budgets for the coming financial year.
 
“This is a difficult time for our poultry industry. Some farmers are faced with the possibility of having to close down their businesses. Workers are worried about their livelihoods, and being able to provide for their families. We know the impact on food security is also likely to be significant. This is why we are committed to working with DAFF and the industry to save our poultry industry.”

Winde said the disease was spreading rapidly despite increased control measures, and that he had noted proactive steps by some farmers who had put additional special measures in place to curb the spread.

LOSSES: The outbreak has already affected the province's egg supply. Picture: AP/Vadim Ghirda

“Many farmers have been proactive with testing their flocks for early detection of AI and culling them quickly in response to positive tests. Some of the farmers have also bought and put down lime around their properties to try and prevent the virus from spreading.”

In response to this outbreak, which is the first of its kind in South Africa, the Western Cape Government has convened a Joint Operations Centre (JOC).

The JOC is being driven by the Western Cape Department of Agriculture, the Provincial Disaster Management Centre, the Department of Social Development and the Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning.

The Provincial Disaster Management Centre (PDMC) is assisting the Department of Agriculture (DOA) with the coordination of steps to mitigate the effects of the avian influenza outbreak.

Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning MEC Anton Bredell said the JOC ensures that information sharing and action steps happens accurately and quickly.

In addition the provincial government was also aware of false messages relating to avian influenza doing the rounds on social media.

“Please take great care with messages that may be ill-informed and inaccurate and which may lead to unnecessary panic. When in doubt contact us for clarity.”

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Cape Argus