Infectious Diseases 2004

Infectious Diseases 2004

South Africa halts poultry exports after avian influenza outbreak

6 August, 2004

South Africa has stopped all poultry exports as a precaution after the outbreak of avian influenza on two farms in the Eastern Cape. The department of agriculture says it has voluntarily stopped poultry exports until the outbreak has been dealt with conclusively.
Final tests earlier revealed that the strain, which caused the outbreak, could not spread to humans and poultry. The variant is different from the one that killed millions of birds and 24 humans in Asia earlier this year.
About 6 000 ostriches are to be culled on two Eastern Cape farms where Avian influenza has broken out. The Avian influenza strain has been identified as H5N2. It is described as extremely infectious but not transferable to human beings and poultry.
Njabulo Nduli, the deputy director general of the agricultural department, says they have decided to destroy all ostriches on the two affected farms. About 2,000 ostriches have already died since the outbreak started three weeks ago. Financial losses have been estimated at over R10 million. The quarantined area has been extended from 30 to 40km around the two affected farms. The department of agriculture will compensate Eastern Cape farmers whose ostriches will have to be put down.
Nduli says culling of sick ostriches may start this afternoon after all necessary preparations have been made.
Meanwhile, officials from several government departments are meeting with farmers at Cookhouse in the Eastern Cape to discuss the outbreak of avian influenza in the area. Fifteen farms are under quarantine, but health officials say the outbreak remains confined to two farms.
The departments of agriculture, health, defence and police are involved in attempts to prevent the disease from spreading. Roadblocks have been set up to prevent movement of ostrich and poultry.