Infectious Diseases 2004

Infectious Diseases 2004

Avian Influenza has appeared in South Africa's Eastern Cape province, threatening the country's ostrich exports

5 August, 2004

The South African Agriculture Ministry has isolated three farms in the province, restricting the transport of ostriches and ostrich-based products from these farms.
Authorities of Western Cape province has banned Eastern Cape farmers from selling ostriches to abattoirs in their province until the epidemic is under control.
The quarantine area around the avian influenza infected farm near Middleton in the Eastern Cape was expanded in an urgent attempt to keep the disease at bay. Authorities have confirmed that samples from Eastern Cape farms have been provisionally diagnosed as one of the strains of Avian Influenza that has affected Asia. At least 1500 ostriches have died following the outbreak in the Eastern Cape, and the health and agriculture department says 20 to 200 ostriches have died per day since the disease was first diagnosed on July 25.
The authorities have also taken control of ostrich-raising areas Karoo and Oudtshoorn to curb the spread of the disease in the province.
South Africa now has 600 ostrich farms, an industry worth $190 million a year in exports.
The European Union (EU), South Africa's largest buyer of ostrich meat, has threatened to apply export restrictions to the country if the avian influenza spreads to Western Cape, which accounts for 70 percent of South Africa's ostrich-based products.
Samples from the affected farms are being analysed. They have provisionally been diagnosed with the same strain of highly contagious avian influenza that caused major ostrich mortalities in South Africa earlier this year.
Authorities in the Western Cape are concerned that a major new outbreak could have serious repercussions on the ostrich farming industry, including a possible European ban on imports, and are taking measures to avoid contamination.