The Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development has reported an outbreak of avian influenza (AI) on a commercial farm in Ekurhuleni, Gauteng.
The same farm was also part of the H5N8 highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) outbreak in 2017.
According to the department’s statement, 300 birds have died of avian flu on the commercial chicken-layer farm.
Samples from the farm sent to a laboratory tested positive for the H5 strain of AI.
“Upon confirmation that it was H5, the birds in the affected house were immediately destroyed,” the department said.
“Arrangements were made for samples to be urgently tested at Onderstepoort Veterinary Research (OVR), to determine the pathotype (whether it is high (HPAI) or low pathogenic avian influenza (LPAI)) as well as to determine the N type of the virus.”
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Results of the tests are yet to be released.
The farm has since been placed under quarantine as investigations continue.
“The Gauteng veterinary authorities are performing back and forward tracing to determine the extent of the outbreak and assist with the safe disposal of dead chickens and disinfection of the farm.”
The department further warned poultry farmers to be on the lookout for the following signs:
- Quietness and extreme depression;
- Sudden drop in production of eggs, many of which are soft-shelled or shell-less;
- Wattle and combs become red and swollen;
- Swelling of the skin under the eyes;
- Coughing, sneezing and nervousness signs;
- Haemorrhages (blood spots) on the hock;
- A few deaths may occur over several days, followed by rapid spread of disease and deaths up to 100% within 48 hours.
Farmers and those with birds kept for a hobby or zoo purposes, are encouraged to implement the following biosecurity measures:
- Keep birds away from areas that are visited by wild birds;
- Control access of people and equipment to poultry houses;
- Avoid provision of water and food in a way that may attract wild birds. Rather feed free-range birds under cover or inside a confined structure;
- Maintain proper disinfection of the property, poultry houses and equipment;
- Avoid the introduction of birds of unknown disease status into your flock(s);
- Report illnesses and deaths of birds to your responsible state or private veterinarian;
- Implement procedures for safe disposal of manure and dead birds.
Compiled by Vhahangwele Nemakonde