8 November 2017

South Africa: MEC Alan Winde On Avian Influenza Infections in Western Cape

press release

There have been no new confirmed avian influenza infections.

Alan Winde, MEC of Economic Opportunities, has announced that there have been no new reported infections in the Western Cape this past week, signalling a possible positive turning point for the industry.

There are currently 63 confirmed cases of avian influenza in the Western Cape. There have been no new infections at commercial farms since 18 October.

To date, 2.8 million commercial poultry birds have been culled. The majority of the birds culled were layer hens. In total, 121 363 broiler breeder chickens have died or been culled, and 28 717 duck broilers and 3 954 duck broiler breeders have died or been culled.

"We are still investigating a small number of suspect cases, but the infection rate appears to be slowing down. This is the first time since the infection started spreading in our province at the start of August that we have seen a marked decrease in the number of new infections. In other countries, infections for this strain of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza have decreased in summer, due to the heat.

"Our focus now is to rebuild our poultry industry. We are assisting farmers to make sure their poultry houses are cleaned, so that they are able to start the restocking process. Animal Health Technicians are supporting farmers in this process. I want to appeal to farmers to refrain from restocking until their poultry houses have been confirmed as clean. Restocking when the virus is still present will only lead to more culling."

MEC Winde said the impact on food prices was being monitored.

"We have observed price increases, but we will only have official numbers next week when Statistics South Africa releases its Consumer Price Index. These figures will show us the prices for October."

Since this strain of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza first reached South Africa in June this year, there have been in excess of 90 confirmed cases across the country. It is the first time the H5N8 strain has occurred in the country.

The Joint Operations Centre established by the Western Cape Department of Agriculture and the Provincial Disaster Management Centre continues to meet to provide a progress report on the provincial government's response to the outbreak.

A humanitarian relief plan is being rolled out in partnership with social organisations.

Issued by: Western Cape Economic Development and Tourism

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