PRETORIA, The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) here has confirmed, following advice from the World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Organization for Animal Health, that the avian influenza virus strain — H5N8 — currently affecting South Africa is not a threat to humans.
The DAFF wishes to reiterate that the type of virus we are dealing with does not affect people, as has been confirmed by the World Health Organization and the World Organization for Animal Health. The meat that is on the shelves is safe to eat, as it has gone through a process of meat inspection and certified fit for human consumption, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Senzeni Zokwana told a media briefing here Thursday.
This was also confirmed by the Director of Animal Health at the department, Mpho Maja, who said chicken meat on the shelves was safe to consume. Maja added that meat from healthy poultry was safe to eat because of the strict inspections at slaughter houses but warned the people not to eat any birds found dead, dying or sick.
This follows a national ban on all chicken farmers selling live birds following the outbreak of highly pathogenic bird flu. Two cases, one at a broiler breeder farm in Villiers and another in an egg laying farm in Standerton, have been reported since June 22. Both these farms are in Mpumalanga province and surveillance is being conducted around the affected areas.
Our team of veterinarians has swiftly responded to this threat. We have placed the affected farms under quarantine and the affected birds have been euthanised and the eggs destroyed. Approximately 260 000 birds have been culled, Zokwana said.
He confirmed that no case had been reported so far in neighbouring Free State or in any other province but authorities remain on high alert.
Responding to calls for the department to permit vaccination against the disease, Zokwana said the advice he received from experts is that this will not be in the best interest of the country and poultry producers. Vaccination of birds will create an endemic situation, affect surveillance efforts and affect our export certification because all our trade partners only want products from a country that is free of avian influenza where vaccination is not practised.
Source: NAM NEWS NETWORK