South Africa is currently dealing with a number of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5 and H7 outbreaks. Up to 21 September 2023, a total of fifty (50) HPAI H7 outbreaks and ten (10) HPAI H5 outbreaks were reported.
Gauteng Province is the hardest hit with regards to the HPAI H7 outbreaks. The number of H7 outbreaks in the provinces are as follows:
Gauteng - 37
Mpumalanga - 2
Limpopo - 2
Northwest - 2
Free State - 1
The reported number of chickens that died is: 107 705
The reported number of chickens that were culled: 1 318 521
Based on these reported figures, there has been a total loss of 1 426 226 chickens.
Western Cape Province is the hardest hit with regards to the HPAI H5 outbreaks having a total of 7 reported outbreaks. The other 3 HPAI H5 outbreaks are within KwaZulu-Natal Province.
The reported number of chickens that died is: 98 249
The reported number of chickens that were culled: 1 156 283
Based on these reported figures, there has been a total loss of 1 254 532 chickens.
The number of newly detected H7 and H5 PCR positive farms are increasing, and industry is thus requested to ensure the utmost biosecurity on poultry farms to reduce the risk of introduction.
The department has facilitated the importation of fertile eggs for the broiler industry, a similar request for the table eggs will be considered if received. We are also facilitating the transit to eSwatini of fertile eggs for their broiler production.
With regards to vaccination, the Department met with vaccine registration regulators and the agreement reached is that the registration of vaccine will be fast tracked, but the safety, efficacy and quality will not be compromised.
Due to the high probability of Avian Influenza virus mutating and becoming zoonotic, care needs to be taken on the quality and efficacy parameters of the vaccine chosen for use in this exercise.
The criteria under which vaccination will be permitted is almost in its final development, and only farms with good biosecurity and approved to vaccinate by the department will be given permission to vaccinate.
The other requirements for vaccination will be surveillance to enable early detection of incursion and mandatory slaughter of vaccinated chickens.
The department further encourages all producers to intensify their biosecurity measures on the farm. The basic measures should aim at preventing contact with wild birds, including their fecal material which can be transported in boots and equipment.
Any suspicion of the disease must be reported immediately to the State Veterinarian nearest to you.