With an official case of the H7 high pathogenicity Avian influenza detected in George at the weekend, a Khayelitsha farmer said fears that her poultry would become infected had prevented her from growing her business.
The Western Cape had until Friday managed to avert an outbreak that has spread in Gauteng, Mpumalanga, Free State and Limpopo in recent months.
Agriculture MEC, Ivan Meyer, said the infection was likely due to the transportation of chickens.
“It is very unfortunate and a blow to the Western Cape poultry industry that the first case of HPAI was diagnosed in the George area of the Western Cape.
“This follows the introduction of chickens from an infected province in the north.
“The George farm has been quarantined and culling on the farm has already started.”
“Western Cape poultry owners are urged to heighten biosecurity measures as far as possible and be extremely cautious as to bringing in any new chickens or allowing visitors or vehicles into poultry farms.
“Moving chickens from infected provinces should be avoided at all costs as this has a severe impact on the entire Western Cape province if more cases of H7 HPAI are detected,” said Meyer.
Ncumisa Mkabile, the owner of Mamcube Homegrown Chickens, said she was hesitant about buying and selling chicken.
“It has been extremely difficult.
“I even had to stop farming chickens and it has really hit us hard as young farmers.
“I used to get my chickens from a bigger farmer than myself and resell them, sometimes with eggs.
“But the outbreak caused a lot of fears amongst us as farmers and as a result I had to stop.
“I am hoping that this too shall pass and I will be back in business.
“It has just been a lot to deal with and most farmers fear the worst and the losses are just unbearable,” she said.
Mkabile said she hoped that the outbreak would be kept under control to limit further damage to farmers who rely mostly on poultry farming.
State veterinarian and director of Animal Health, Dr Noluvuyo Magadla, appealed to poultry owners to adhere to general recommendations to prevent transmission of the disease.