Pretoria — South Africa has suspended exports of ostrich meat and all live birds following an avian flu outbreak in the Western Cape.
The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF), together with the provincial department and the Ostrich Business Chamber - have conducted intensive veterinary investigations over the past weeks on ostrich farms in the southern Cape, which showed sero-conversion of avian influenza.
"This incident has been reported to the EU as our major trading partner and the OIE. Unfortunately, this means that the export of ostrich meat, in accordance with the agreement with the EU, has been suspended until the situation can be resolved," the department said.
EU countries are South Africa's main market for ostrich meat.
The department says movement of all ratites (ostrich family) is suspended with immediate effect, unless covered by a Red Cross permit.
It also requested the public not to panic as they are "effectively" dealing with the outbreak.
Relevant industry members and the poultry industry in general are also requested to cooperate with departmental officials in dealing with the disease outbreak.