A broiler breeder farm in the Worcester area has tested positive for avian influenza, the Western Cape government has said.
This followed earlier announcements of outbreaks of the highly pathogenic avian influenza in Gauteng and North West.
Agriculture MEC Ivan Meyer said in a statement that the affected farm was under quarantine, and the process of humanely culling the affected chickens was under way.
“The Western Cape Government urges the participation of the public and the agricultural sector in preventing the spread of this disease.
“It is essential to report sick or dead birds – both wild birds and poultry to your local state vet.
“Farmers and poultry producers should be vigilant in their biosecurity measures to prevent potential virus introduction from wild birds or their faeces,” Meyer said.
Meyer assured consumers that poultry products from grocery stores were safe for consumption, adding that there was currently no indication that this strain of avian influenza could affect humans.
Avian influenza is a viral respiratory disease of birds spread by direct contact between healthy and infected birds or through indirect contact with contaminated equipment or other materials.
Culling of infected beds
The virus is present in the faeces of infected birds and discharges from their noses, mouth and eyes. Domestic birds can be infected through faecal contamination of the environment from wild birds or by indirect contact with infected poultry on other premises.
There is currently no vaccine or treatment for highly pathogenic avian influenza.
Current practice in most regions of the world requires the culling of infected birds.
“We do advise caution when handling or slaughtering potentially infected poultry. Poultry workers, abattoir workers, and those who dress their poultry should only handle dead bird carcasses with gloves or disinfect their hands after handling carcasses,” Meyer said.