Avian flu detected in George in the Western Cape

The farm in George has since been quarantined. File Picture: Tracey Adams/African News Agency (ANA)

The farm in George has since been quarantined. File Picture: Tracey Adams/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Oct 13, 2023


The first case of Avian influenza in the Western Cape has been reported in George on Thursday, Western Cape MEC for Agriculture, Dr Ivan Meyer confirmed on Friday.

Avian influenza is a disease usually carried in wild birds. These viruses occur naturally among wild aquatic birds, but can infect domestic poultry and other bird and animal species.

Most wild birds can be infected with avian influenza viruses and not get sick, but if poultry get infected, they may get very sick and die.

Avian influenza strains can cause disease in humans but this is rare. Avian influenza strains that have caused disease in humans are ‘influenza A(H5N1)’ and ‘influenza A(H7N9)’.

This comes as Avian influenza was detected in Gauteng, Mpumalanga, Free State and Limpopo provinces.

“It is very unfortunate and a blow to the Western Cape poultry industry that the first case of H7 High Pathogenicity Avian Influenza (HPAI) was diagnosed yesterday 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,” Meyer said.

He also warned that the Bird Flu (H5N1 HPAI virus) that caused seven outbreaks in the Western Cape from April to June remains a threat from wild birds.

“In the past three months the Western Cape hasn’t experienced any further outbreaks in the commercial poultry industry. All the outbreaks reported in the period between April and June have been resolved.

“While under quarantine, the farms had been depopulated, cleaned, and disinfected twice with the State Veterinarian’s inspection. The quarantine was lifted, and the outbreaks were reported as resolved and disclosed to the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD) and the World Organisation of Animal Health (WOHA), respectively,” Meyer said.

Director of Animal Health and State veterinarian, Dr Noluvuyo Magadla appealed to poultry owners to adhere to the following general recommendations to prevent transmission of the disease between farms, which include:

- Discouraging interprovincial movement of birds and advising farmers to avoid these movements until Avian influenza outbreaks are under control

- Ensuring only healthy poultry is brought onto your property

- Keep new birds completely separate for two weeks and only mix with other birds if they remain healthy

- Not allowing anyone onto your property who has had contact with poultry in the previous two days

- Do not visit poultry owned by others

- Clean and disinfect vehicles upon entering and exiting properties of mud

- Use footbaths to disinfect footwear when entering and leaving a poultry house

- Keep poultry away from wild birds and their body fluids.

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