News

Update on Avian Influenza in the Western Cape

7 September 2017

Today, 7 September 2017, Alan Winde, Minister of Economic Opportunities and the state vet team briefed media on the current regional outbreak of avian influenza in the province.

Highlights include:

  • 17 cases confirmed

  • 46 ostrich farms under quarantine

  • In excess of 200 000 chickens have died or been culled

  • Vets conducting province-wide survey and surveillance

  • Farms urged to put strict biosecurity measures in place immediately

The Western Cape Government today (7 September 2017) released an update on the status of avian influenza in the province. 

Alan Winde, Minister of Economic Opportunities, and the state vet team deployed to deal with the outbreak, briefed the media at the Ministry of Economic Opportunities this afternoon. 

There are currently 17 properties which have been confirmed to be infected with highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI), strain H5N8, in the province.  

Minister Winde said: “We’ve made significant resources available in support of our quest to contain the spread of the disease. But, we need the cooperation of the entire affected sector – private and public – if we are to win this battle.”

After a case is confirmed by positive lab tests, it is reported to the National Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF).

DAFF officially notifies the OIE (also known as the World Organisation for Animal Health) as well as our trading partners. The OIE then notifies its 71 member countries, so they may put preventative measures in place.

In respect of the above-mentioned cases, the formal notification process has been concluded, and these cases can therefore be made public.

Detail below:

Area

SpeciesGroup

Species

SpeciesType

Heidelberg

Ratites

Ostriches

Commercial

Heidelberg

Ratites

Ostriches

Commercial

Heidelberg

Ratites

Ostriches

Commercial

Swellendam

Wild

Guinea fowl

Wild

Heidelberg

Ratites

Ostriches

Commercial

Cape Town

Poultry

Layer chickens

Commercial

Heidelberg

Wild

Rock pigeon, Spur-winged goose

Wild

Heidelberg

Wild

Blue cranes

Wild

Cape Town

Poultry

Ducks

Commercial

Worcester

Wild

Laughing dove

Wild

Heidelberg

Ratites

Ostriches

Commercial

Heidelberg

Wild

Guinea fowl

Wild

Caledon

Wild

Guinea fowl

Wild

Cape Town

Poultry

Layer chickens

Commercial

Heidelberg

Ratites

Ostriches

Commercial

Heidelberg

Ratites

Ostriches

Commercial

Oudtshoorn

Ratites

Ostriches

Commercial

 The following control measures are in place at the ostrich farms:

  • All farms within 10km of an infected farm are under quarantine;

  • Movement control of eggs and chicks is in place within the quarantined area;

  • Slaughter of birds only allowed after a farm has tested negative;

  • In total, 19 farms are under quarantine in Heidelberg and 27 in the Oudtshoorn area.

The following control measures are in place at the poultry farms: 

  • Positive farms are placed under quarantine;

  • Infected and in contact birds are culled humanely; 

  • Farm is cleaned and disinfected to deactivate any remaining virus before quarantine is lifted;

  • Increased monitoring and testing if necessary of all properties with birds in a 3km radius surrounding an infected farm

As a further control measure, the vets have this week launched an interactive survey with farmers and bird owners in the surrounding areas of infected properties. Properties who do not complete the survey, and who are within 3km of an infected farm, will be visited by an animal health technician.

Biosecurity is the most important method of preventing avian influenza from spreading. We are urging farmers to implement the following measures with immediate effect. 

  • Keep poultry and other birds away from wild birds and their body fluids, through keeping them indoors, or using screens, fencing or nets;

  • Access to your property should be restricted as far as possible;

  • Vehicles should be disinfected upon entering and exiting your property

  • Do not allow any people who have had contact with poultry in the last 48 hours onto your property;

  • The use of footbaths upon entry and exit to the poultry house;

  • Remove items that attract wild birds such as mortalities or spilled feed;

  • Preferably do not handle other birds, and disinfect your hands or any in-contact clothing afterwards.

Minister Winde said: “One of my biggest concerns is the impact of this outbreak on the economy. At just one farm, 96 jobs are under threat. Two affected poultry farms have also indicated they are considering closing down.

“We are aware of one major poultry company which employs over 2 000 people. There are an estimated 29 million birds in the commercial poultry sector in the Western Cape, and approximately185 000 backyard chickens.

“The ostrich sector provides around 15 000 direct jobs and indirectly 100 000 people depend on this sector for their livelihoods. Our economists have started mapping the Western Cape’s avian economy 

“We know the decreased supply of poultry products in the market will also put pressure on food prices; a further strain on households.”

To support workers at affected farms, where culling may have taken place,  the state vets are liaising with the Department of Social Development to ensure social workers are made available to support affected workers.

In terms of compensation to affected farms, DAFF is mandated to determine appropriate compensation, and is investigating draft compensation guidelines.

Recommendations from the OIE regarding the role of compensation in disease control  indicate  that compensation should only cover direct losses and do so at a level between 75% and 90% of market value.

Minister Winde said that worldwide, there had been no reported cases of people falling ill after being in contact with infected birds.

“Although we have no reported cases of people being infected with this strain of avian influenza, we are urging people in contact with infected birds to take precautions. We need the cooperation of the public to stop the spread of this disease.”

Poultry workers and abattoir workers and those who dress their own poultry are most at risk. People should only handle dead bird carcasses with gloves, or disinfect their hands after handling carcasses. Poultry products from grocery stores are safe for consumption.

Media Enquiries: 

 

Bronwynne Jooste

Spokesperson: Alan Winde, Minister of Economic Opportunities

Responsible for Tourism, Economic Development and Agriculture

Tel: 021 483 3550

Cell: 060 970 4301

Email: bronwynne.jooste@westerncape.gov.za