Avian Influenza Outbreak in Western Cape Results in Death of 120,000 Birds

…By Jack Sylva for TDPel Media. The Western Cape Department of Agriculture has advised the public and farming sector to remain vigilant after avian influenza was detected at two commercial layer farms in the Paardeberg area, resulting in the death or culling of approximately 120,000 birds.

Spread of avian influenza to humans is low

Although there is no vaccine or treatment available for highly pathogenic avian influenza, current practice in most of the world requires culling infected birds as soon as possible to limit the spread.

The risk of the disease jumping to humans remains low.

The affected farms are located in Drakenstein and Swartland Local Municipalities

The affected farms are egg-laying chicken farms in the Drakenstein and Swartland Local Municipalities.

Unknown strain being investigated

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The exact strain of the virus is still unknown and is being investigated.

Avian influenza spreads through direct contact and contaminated materials

Avian influenza spreads through direct contact between healthy and infected birds, or through contact with contaminated equipment or materials.

The virus is found in the faeces of sick birds and discharges from their nose, mouth, and eyes.

Global avian influenza outbreaks

Highly pathogenic avian influenza outbreaks have been occurring worldwide and were detected in poultry in other South African provinces earlier in 2023 and throughout 2022.

No vaccine or treatment available

Although there is no vaccine or treatment available for highly pathogenic avian influenza, current practice in most of the world requires culling infected birds as soon as possible to limit the spread.

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Precautions to take when handling or slaughtering potentially infected poultry

Experts advise the public to avoid contact with dead birds and to wear gloves, masks, and eye goggles when handling or slaughtering potentially infected poultry.

Poultry products from grocery stores remain safe

Poultry products from grocery stores remain safe for consumers, according to the department.

Analysis and Commentaries:

The detection of avian influenza in commercial layer farms in the Western Cape is concerning and highlights the importance of biosecurity measures to prevent the spread of the virus.

The culling of infected birds is a standard response to limit the spread of the disease, and this emphasizes the vulnerability of the poultry industry to avian influenza outbreaks.

The low risk of the disease jumping to humans is reassuring, but the public must remain vigilant and follow recommended precautions when handling or slaughtering potentially infected poultry.

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It is crucial to continue monitoring for the spread of the virus and to implement appropriate measures to prevent its further spread.

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