Young white chickens sit in open-air cages on a po
Young white chickens sit in open-air cages on a poultry farm. (Image: Getty)
  • South Africa is currently battling a second outbreak of bird flu, which has been reported in the North West.
  • Lesotho is also banning eggs from Gauteng, following trade suspensions with a number of other neighbouring countries.
  • The industry has destroyed more than 247,000 birds since the outbreak was first reported.
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A second outbreak of avian influenza has been detected in the North West province, a week after it was found at a commercial layer farm in the east of Johannesburg.

The South African Poultry Association reported that an outbreak of the highly pathogenic H5 virus was detected on a broiler breeder farm in North West. The farm has had to cull 7,000 broiler breeder birds, the poultry industry body said in a statement.

The association said that the birds' remains had been sent to the Onderstepoort Veterinary Research Institute for analysis and sequencing.

The strain of the avian flu detected last week on the Johannesburg farm has been identified as (Highly Pathogenic Avian Infulenza) HPAI H5N1 and is different from the 2017 outbreak. The farm has culled 240,000 birds as part of its attempts to contain the virus' spread and protect surrounding farms. It will cost R20 million to replace the birds.

In 2017, South Africa had a flare-up of the H5N8 bird flu, which caused an egg shortage and saw the industry kill about 4.7 million hens, or 20% of the national flock.

“Any outbreak of HPAI is treated as extremely serious and virulent, and the poultry industry remains in a state of high alert,” the poultry association said.

“Quarantine protocols remain in place on the farm concerned, the farm workers are issued personal protective equipment daily, and the farm is being sterilised before accepting new layers,” it said.

In the meantime, Lesotho is the latest country to ban poultry products coming from South Africa. However, it has only banned eggs coming from Gauteng.

Dr Mpho Maja, director of the animal health department, continues to be engaged in discussions with all of South Africa’s neighbouring countries about minimising the impact on South African exports.

Other countries that have suspended the import of poultry and poultry products from South Africa are Mozambique, Botswana, and Namibia. Namibia has only blocked products from one compartment, and for 21 days.

South Africa, which exported 53,641 tonnes of poultry products worth R1.247 billion in 2019, exports its poultry to the SADC region and other neighbouring countries, with broilers accounting for 93.6 % of the industry’s total poultry exports. Egg exports for the period came to 14, 458 tonnes, with the total value of all egg exports amounting to R337.5 million

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