WCDoA encourages vigilance in the fight against Avian Influenza | Western Cape Government


WCDoA encourages vigilance in the fight against Avian Influenza

29 August 2023

Western Cape poultry owners are encouraged to please remain vigilant in order to prevent the spread of H7 high pathogenicity avian influenza (HPAI).

Twenty-three outbreaks of H7N6 a high pathogenicity avian influenza (HPAI) have been reported to the World Organisation for Animal Health since 29 May, from Gauteng, Mpumalanga and the Free State. Over 2 million birds have been affected. This is the first time an H7 HPAI virus has been detected in chickens in South Africa.

In this case, the biggest risk to poultry enterprises is the introduction of infected chickens or contact with people, vehicles, equipment or any other object that is contaminated with the virus.  The H5N1 HPAI virus that caused seven outbreaks in the Western Cape from April to June, is still a threat to wild birds but there have been no cases reported from poultry in the Western Cape since June.

Avian influenza is a controlled disease in terms of the Animal Diseases Act, 35 of 1984 and any suspicion of the disease- in wild or domestic birds- must be reported to the local state veterinarian. Contact details are available at: https://www.elsenburg.com/veterinary-services/animal-health-and-disease-control/

Avian influenza is caused by a virus of birds, spread by direct contact between healthy and infected birds, or through contact with contaminated equipment or other materials. The virus is present in the faeces of infected birds and in discharges from their noses, mouth and eyes. Domestic birds can be infected through faecal contamination of the environment from wild birds, or by indirect contact with infected poultry on other premises.

There is currently no vaccine or treatment for avian influenza. Current practice in most regions of the world requires the culling of infected birds as quickly as possible, to limit disease spread.

The Western Cape Government urges the participation of the public and the agricultural sector in preventing the spread of this disease. Farmers and poultry producers should please be vigilant in their biosecurity measures in order to prevent potential virus introduction from wild birds or their faeces.

General recommendations to combat the spread of disease include the following:

  • Ensure you only bring healthy poultry onto your property
  • Keep new birds completely separate for two weeks and only mix with your other birds if they remain healthy
  • Do not allow anyone onto your property who has had contact with poultry in the previous 2 days.
  • Do not visit poultry belonging to others.
  • Vehicles entering properties should be cleaned of mud and disinfected upon entering and exiting.
  • Use footbaths to disinfect footwear when entering and leaving a poultry house.
  • It is important to keep poultry away from wild birds and their body fluids.

Although the risk of avian influenza to humans remains low, it is advised that members of the public avoid touching dead birds. We advise particular caution when handling or slaughtering potentially infected poultry - gloves, a mask and eye protection should be worn.

Poultry products from grocery stores are safe for consumption as infected poultry and their products are destroyed.

It is very important to report sick or dead birds - both wild birds and poultry - to local authorities (veterinary services, public health officials, community leaders etc.) Details of local state veterinarians can be found at: https://rb.gy/37ir5

To learn more about Avian Influenza, visit the WCDoA website: https://rb.gy/76ine



Media Enquiries: 



Media Enquiries

Mary James

Head of Communication

Cell: 084 817 2376

Email: Mary.James@westerncape.gov.za


Expert Advice

Dr Laura Roberts

State Veterinarian: Epidemiolgy

Western Cape Department of Agriculture

Cell: 021 808 5028

Email: Laura.Roberts@westerncape.gov.za