NEWS

Poultry Association, Government Meet Over Bird Flu

Humans are not at risk, but should not eat sick, dead, or dying chickens.

27/06/2017 13:14 SAST | Updated 27/06/2017 13:14 SAST
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South Africa has banned the sale of live chickens throughout the country in a bid to control an outbreak of highly contagious H5N8 bird flu, the government said on Monday.

The second case of avian influenza was reported on a layer farm in Standerton, Mpumalanga, and the Department of Agriculture says more than 25,000 of the infected birds have been quarantined.

South Africa Poultry Association CEO Kevin Lovell told eNCA that the disease is carried to poultry by wild birds, but humans were not at risk from the bird flu.

"To date, no human cases of infection with avian influenza H5N8 have been reported. The government has told us to stop live sales to minimise the risk of the disease spreading. Many businesses will be affected by the ban. It will be largely smaller farmers who sell live birds and people who sell live chickens in the township areas."Kevin Lovell

Lovell talked about finding a balance between stopping the spread of the virus, as well as limiting the effect on informal traders and small businesses.

"To date, no human cases of infection with avian influenza H5N8 have been reported. The government has told us to stop live sales to minimise the risk of the disease spreading. Many businesses will be affected by the ban. It will be largely smaller farmers who sell live birds and people who sell live chickens in the township areas," said Lovell

"This is the first time we are handling a case like this. With regards to our consumers, it is safe for them to go and buy eggs and chickens", he explained.

With the risk of human infection low, he mentioned that the banning of chickens was not the fear of humans getting infected, but it was done to stop the widespread movement and spreading of the flu amongst the chickens

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Director of Animal Health in the Agriculture Department Mpho Maja said to PowerFM on Tuesday chickens on the shelves were safe to consume.

The government said meat from healthy poultry was safe to eat due to strict inspections at abattoirs, though people were urged to avoid eating any birds found dead, dying or sick. "

"There is no reason for consumers to get worried, any and every chicken is safe."Mpho Maja

The Citizen

South Africa suspended all trade in birds and chicken products from neighbouring Zimbabwe earlier this month after it reported an outbreak of the H5N8 bird flu at a poultry farm.

The South African Poultry Association will, on Tuesday, table talks to discuss ways to stop the spread bird flu at a high-level meeting.