An outbreak of Avian influenza has been detected on a chicken farm in Ekurhuleni, east of Johannesburg, where around 300 birds died.
Spokesperson for the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development, Reggie Ngcobo, says samples were sent to Onderstepoort’s Veterinary Research facility and tested positive for the H5 strain of Avian flu.
He says the commercial chicken-layer farm was also part of the H5N8 highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) outbreak in 2017.
The outbreak caused poultry farmers to cull millions of birds and prompted neighbouring countries including Zimbabwe, Namibia and Botswana to ban poultry imports from South Africa.
Ngcobo says the farm has been placed under quarantine. He says veterinary authorities are investigating the extent of the outbreak and the nature of the pathogen.
“We urge our people to (remain) calm. There is no need for panic. And we urge our farmers as well as those who keep birds for hobbies or in zoo’s … we encourage them to implement bio-security measures. Keep birds away from areas that are visited by wild birds, control access of people that come in, in their bird houses, avoid provision of water and food in a way that attracts wild birds. There’s no need to panic. The Department is currently working on making sure that we get the result and then we will be able to advise accordingly,” adds Ngcobo.