Bird flu has broken out, with approximately 24,000 birds thought to have been affected on a farm in Mpumalanga. This follows an outbreak of the deadly virus in Zimbabwe earlier this month.
According to The Times on Friday, the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) said on Thursday evening that it was notified of a high number of deaths on a breeder flock in Villier, close to the Mpumalanga provincial border.
Samples collected on the farm had tested positive for Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza. The DAFF reportedly said it had agreed with the farm to euthanize the birds in the affected houses, in collaboration with the NSPCA.
The Times reported that the affected property had 12 self-contained sites with about 285 000 birds, and only one self-contained site with about 24,000 birds had been affected. The farm had been placed under quarantine as part of the emergency response, DAFF said.
All poultry owners have been notified by DAFF of the outbreak, and notices have included details about how the surveillance of the outbreak will be conducted, as well as what biosecurity measures will be taken.
"The Mpumalanga Veterinary Authorities are on the farm‚ assisting with quarantine implementation‚ culling and disinfection of the farm. The affected farm is on the banks of the Vaal River and it is suspected that wild birds may be involved. The influenza is carried by live birds which make it difficult to control and contain to a particular area. We have intensified our early detection and requested owners to enhance their biosecurity in order to prevent contact with wild birds," the department said.
The DAFF said vaccination against bird flu is prohibited by law.
"There are several reasons for not allowing vaccination of chickens‚ and the most pertinent are that vaccinated birds mask the disease and therefore create an endemic situation; surveillance for absence of disease is also impossible in vaccinated birds as they all test positive."