The North West department of rural, environment and agriculture development (Read) has identified three new cases of bird flu.
The outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI), commonly known as bird flu, was identified on Friday in parts of the province.
“One of the outbreaks involves quails that are hatched, grown and slaughtered on the farm. The second outbreak in Madibeng involved wild ducks that were kept domestically as pets for recreational reasons,” said Read spokesperson Emelda Setlhako.
The third outbreak of the virus was detected in a semi-commercial farm in Maquassie Hills, and Setlhako said a team from the department was dealing with the infected households to minimise the spread of the infection.
“The teams will continue to take samples randomly from remaining birds, in instances where the birds were not totally culled,” she said.
Setlhako noted that although wild birds harboured bird flu without showing signs of the disease, there were cases where they showed signs in situations of excessive stress.
“The animals’ immune system becomes compromised and it may start showing clinical signs, or shreds the virus. Domesticated poultry is highly susceptible to the virus and if they come into contact with it, it results in heavy mortalities,” she said.
Setlhako said the primary source of the infection was direct contact with wild birds, and the disease can be spread within farms through using utensils, and on clothes that were worn after touching wild birds.
“The poultry farmers in all the areas have been informed. Private veterinarians have also been requested to assist farmers with biosecurity measures,” she said.
Acting CEO of the SA Poultry Association Dr Charlotte Nkuna advised poultry producers to be on high alert, and practice safety measures.
“Although there haven’t been any outbreaks in large commercial farms, we are monitoring everything and we are also improving security,” said Nkuna.
She said there have been isolated cases of bird flu in small-scale farms, and in backyard chickens.
“It is difficult to predict what will happen next but we are in constant communication with poultry producers and we are raising awareness on the disease.”
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