Home Health North West Province Faces Outbreak of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza

North West Province Faces Outbreak of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza

by Central News Reporter
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Pathogenic avian influenza

North West

The North West Province in South Africa is currently grappling with four confirmed cases of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (H5 and H7).


These cases have been reported in the Bojanala Platinum District Municipality.

The outbreaks were identified through the definitive Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) method. The affected farms are layer farms that are registered as ZA compartmentalized facilities with the National Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD).

The Department of Agriculture, Land Reform & Rural Development has recently announced that South Africa is dealing with an outbreak of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI), with a total of 50 confirmed cases of the HPAI H7 strain and 10 cases of the HPAI H5 strain.

To contain the outbreak, quarantine notices have been issued, and a proposal for culling the affected farms has been sent to the farm owners. The province is currently maintaining the quarantine until a positive response is received from the National Director of Animal Health (NDAH) at DALRRD.

Provincial Veterinary Services officials are on the ground conducting investigations into possible outbreaks in the Dr Kenneth Kaunda District and other parts of the Bojanala Platinum District Municipality.

Avian influenza is a highly contagious viral disease that affects various species of birds, including food-producing birds, pet birds, and wild birds. In some cases, mammals, including humans, can also contract avian influenza.

The H5 and H7 strains of avian influenza are classified into two categories based on the severity of the disease they cause in poultry. Low Pathogenic Avian Influenza (LPAI) strains cause few or no clinical signs in poultry, while Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) strains can lead to severe clinical signs and potentially high mortality rates among poultry.

The World Organization for Animal Health (WOAH) defines poultry as all domesticated birds used for meat or egg production, for the production of commercial products, for restocking supplies, or for breeding. Backyard poultry is not included in the WOAH definition of poultry if the birds are kept in a single household exclusively for internal use and have no direct or indirect contact with poultry or poultry facilities.

Outbreaks of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza in poultry can result in trade bans on the export of poultry and poultry products. However, reporting of HPAI outbreaks in non-poultry species, such as wild birds, pet birds, birds kept as a hobby, and backyard poultry as defined by the 2021 OIE Terrestrial Animal Health Code, does not have trade implications.

North West Province conducts both passive and active surveillance for avian influenza on a regular basis to detect any incursion of the virus. Active surveillance in commercial chickens is carried out every six months, and monthly surveillance is conducted in AI-free compartments that are registered with DALRRD.

To prevent the spread of the virus, farmers are advised to only source eggs from reputable suppliers with a proven track record of good biosecurity. Additionally, farmers should clean up and dispose of droppings from wild birds around chicken houses, as they can carry the virus. It is also recommended to cover open patios of free-ranging birds and close openings on roofs to prevent wild birds from accessing chicken areas, as they are attracted to chicken feed.

Farmers are further advised that South Africa does not vaccinate for Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza and should prioritize increasing biosecurity measures to prevent the disease from spreading to their farms. Any increased mortality in birds should be reported to the nearest State Veterinary office in the North West Province, according to the department.

In response to the outbreak, Namibia has suspended imports of live poultry, birds, and poultry products from South Africa, considering the spread of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza in the country.



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