Poultry sector still on high alert for avian flu

Business

The South African poultry and ostrich industries continued to remain under national high alert with strict biosecurity measures in place, said the South African Poultry Association (Sapa) on Friday.

According to Sapa, this was despite there having been no new outbreaks of avian influenza reported since the previously confirmed cases.

An appeal was made to hobbyist keepers of any birds, including poultry, to remain vigilant and report any signs of illness in their birds to their veterinarian. Avian influenza is said to also be an airborne virus that was not restricted to infection by contact only.

Sapa said that trade restrictions imposed by South Africa’s neighbours had since relaxed somewhat or remained the same, with Botswana reducing its national ban to the affected farms only, Namibia restricting imports from the one affected compartment on the East Rand and Lesotho restricting imports from Gauteng.

Swaziland has restricted the affected compartment, while Mozambique has no official restrictions in place.

Sapa expressed its gratitude that, while the financial impact on the farms affected was significant and had a severe negative effect on the farmers, avian influenza incidents had not increased the past week.

The poultry industry body said the support of Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development and all veterinary staff involved have been invaluable.

Supplies of both poultry meat and eggs were said to remain fully stocked as merely less than1% of the bird stocks producing poultry meat and eggs were affected by avian influenza to date.

Consumers have been told that poultry meat and eggs remain safe to eat, and should be cooked properly according to acceptable cooking protocols, achieving temperatures above 60 degrees Celsius. The products from the infected farms were not placed on the market.

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