South Africa: Karoo Ostrich Farmers and Workers Fear Avian Flu Outbreak After Gauteng Cases

(file photo).

The recent outbreak of avian flu in Gauteng has placed Western Cape veterinary services on high alert. Ostrich farmers and workers in the Karoo who bore the brunt of this disease in 2011 said another outbreak would cripple the industry and cause major farmworker job losses.

On Thursday, 15 April Western Cape Agriculture MEC Ivan Meyer confirmed the province was on high alert after the outbreak of avian flu in Gauteng. However, he said no such cases had been reported in the Western Cape.

"We are thankful that the South African Poultry Association has placed the whole industry on high alert and appropriate biosecurity contingency plans are being implemented. Ostrich and chicken meat on sale in retail outlets is safe for human consumption," Meyer said.

This news has placed workers and farmers in the ostrich industry in the Karoo on edge, especially after the 2011 flu which saw at least 38,000 ostriches culled. The industry incurred a loss of about R800-million.

One of the farms forced to close its doors for two years from 2011 was Highgate Ostrich Show Farm outside Oudtshoorn where between 20 and 30 workers were laid off.

One of the affected workers, 54-year-old Ben van der...

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