PRETORIA, South Africa’s Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries says it has been working closely with key players to control the highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) outbreak in the country to find the best means to protect consumers and support poultry farmers.
Since the first case of HPAI was confirmed in a broiler breeder operation near Villiers in the northern province of Mpumalanga in June, a number of other poultry and ostrich operations, as well as wild bird species, hobby birds and backyard chickens have subsequently been infected with the virus.
To date, a total of 92 locations have been identified which tested positive for HPAI H5N8, and reported to the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE). The department, in collaboration with the poultry industry, is investigating how a vaccination strategy may be incorporated as a control measure for specific groups of birds on farms.
Inputs of vaccine manufacturers and international experts have been taken into account. This measure might decrease the effects of the HPAI outbreak in the short term but might have a negative effect on trade, the department said Monday.
An exit strategy to withdraw vaccination once the threat of HPAI is passed is also under discussion.
The movement of live commercial chickens from HPAI-affected properties is not allowed and this is controlled and enforced by the Provincial Veterinary Services. This has been effective in preventing the spread of the disease directly from one HPAI-affected property to another, the department said, adding that to date, none of the outbreaks could be directly linked to the movement of live birds from an affected farm.
The department is also working closely with the industry to promote ongoing food security through the importation of fertile broiler hatching eggs. This will address the shortage in the market, and at the same time ensure that such imports are allowed in a safe manner so as not to jeopardise the health status of the national poultry flock.
Source: NAM NEWS NETWORK