Poultry farmers in the Free State are on high alert following an outbreak of Avian Influenza.

Birds on three poultry farms in Villiers, Parys, and Wesselsbron have tested positive for the virus.

The H5 strain which is known to be highly pathogenic causes severe illness among poultry and sometimes wild birds and often death.

Avian flu is a highly infectious disease that can spread from migratory birds to domestic poultry.

“It can mutate and become influenza in people but it normally goes through the pig then it becomes influenza and it has exactly the same symptoms as in all the other pigs, horses, human beings, and chickens. You must take the samples to Pretoria where they will check the infection if it is ok in those birds and if once it is confirmed, it is put under quarantine and once it’s under quarantine it will go through the depopulation process,” says Dr. Daniel Chitauro, Free State Department of Agriculture’s State Vet.

Poultry farmers have been urged to be vigilant.

“Biosecurity is the measures a farmer should take, to prevent the spread if there is an outbreak at a particular farm. And at the same time to prevent the infection from coming in. So we disinfect even the cars that transport feed and people moving from one farm to another. And even disinfecting people working in the farm also checking the movement,” says Thabo Lerotholi, Free State Department of Agriculture’s State Vet.

The Department of Agriculture has deployed its field veterinarians to ensure early detection and rapid response.

In the video below last month, there was an outbreak, which was reported on a farm in the Tshwane Metro