Although there are currently zero active cases, risk remains high, warns Izaak Breitenbach, head of the SA Poultry Association’s broiler board.
Within a year, the South African Poultry Association (SAPA) has recorded 145 outbreaks, with 13 new instances in the first three months of 2022. This is according to SAPA’s latest Poultry Bulletin.
The highly infectious strain first hit Johannesburg in April 2021. Since then, 3.7 million hens, mainly in the eggs industry have been culled and 2.9 million were destroyed. Approximately 30.6% of the Western Cape’s egg-laying hens have been lost.
The Western Cape, Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal have all been affected, with the Western Cape recording the highest number of cases with 68 outbreaks. Gauteng has reported 39 outbreaks and KwaZulu-Natal 18.
The risk of infection remains high because wild birds are still presenting the disease. Breitenbach said that the financial losses resulting from the outbreaks have been unquantifiable.
The last Avian Flue outbreak in 2017 cost the industry R1.8 billion and resulted in a 20% to 50% shortage in eggs. This is a direct result of the measures taken to prevent further infection, namely culling.