21 September 2017

South Africa: Western Cape On Avian Influenza

press release

There are 26 confirmed cases of avian influenza in the Western Cape.

Alan Winde, Minister of Economic Opportunities, today (21 September 2017), released the latest on the status of the disease in the province.

"There are currently 26 confirmed cases of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI), strain H5N8, in the province. We are continuing to work with the private sector to mitigate the impact of the disease.

"By the end of this week, we estimate that around two million chickens and ducks would have been culled.

"The Western Cape Department of Agriculture has also partnered with the Provincial Disaster Management Centre to establish a Joint Operations Centre (JOC). The JOC is implementing our risk mitigation and support strategy.

"Part of the JOC's focus is assistance to employees at affected farms, as well an investigation into the economic implications of the outbreak," said Winde.

This statement is the first of regular updates from the JOC.

Anton Bredell, the Minister of Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning oversees the Provincial Disaster management centre.

Minister Bredell has noted the input from experts handling the crisis who are stating that poultry products on the market are considered to be safe for consumption.

"We remain concerned about the impact on job security and food security given the sheer scale and speed this crisis is moving at."

Minister Bredell says this is the first time that there has been an outbreak of Avian Influenza in South African poultry.

"Previous avian influenza outbreaks mainly affected ostriches."

Ministers Winde and Bredell will be reporting on the progress of the JOC at a press conference early next month (Please see further details of the media briefing at the end of this release.)

Minister Winde said he continues to engage with the poultry industry on a range of matters, including vaccination.

"The decision to vaccinate can only be made by the National Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. A proposal for vaccination suggests the designation of vaccination zones or compartments in areas with a high density of poultry farms. Further insights into any possible trade implications would have to be investigated first by national."

"I am engaging with Minister Senzeni Zokwana on this matter. AI has affected large parts of the country, and his department is providing the necessary guidance to the entire sector on overall measures."

Minister Winde also reiterated the reporting process for AI.

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 26 confirmed cases, the formal notification process has been concluded, and these cases can therefore be made public.

Bredell has called on the public to report any dead birds to their local authorities, who will contact the provincial authorities specializing in the disease.

"This disease seems to be targeting all birds - poultry, wild birds and birds kept as pets. The public can also contact their closest State Veterinarian Office for further advice."

Issued by: Western Cape Environmental Affairs and Development Planning

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