PRETORIA, South Africa has suspended all trade in birds and chicken products from Zimbabwe following a report on an outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in one of the commercial chicken flocks in Zimbabwe.

The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) Veterinary Services said it was notified of a bird flu outbreak on Friday, June 2. The virus has been typed as H5N8.

South Africa immediately suspended all trade in live birds and poultry, meat, table eggs and other unprocessed poultry products and communicated this to the Zimbabwean Chief Veterinary Officer.

South Africa imports very little from Zimbabwe. All importers were immediately notified that their import permits were cancelled. Any permits, which have not been used, should please be returned to the department with immediate effect, the department said in a statement.

Inspections heightened at country's ports

DAFF has also heightened inspections of all consignments, including all private and public vehicles, at all the country's ports of entry, especially in and out of Zimbabwe.

The Limpopo Veterinary Authorities are on high alert and have been asked to increase their surveillance, especially in backyard chickens.

The department urged communities to be extremely vigilant, especially in areas of Limpopo that border Zimbabwe, and report any unusual mortality of chickens or other birds to the State Veterinary Services immediately for samples to be collected.

Keepers of chickens, geese and ducks, including backyard farmers, are encouraged to observe minimum biosecurity measures to prevent this disease in their birds, such as limiting exposure to wild birds by providing feed and water indoors or at least well underneath a low solid roof.

Care should be taken to prevent chickens drinking from common water sources where wild birds congregate, the department said.

The department encouraged commercial farmers to increase their biosecurity measures on farms, including limiting access to people who might have had contact with birds and chickens outside the farm.

Clinical and serological surveillance should also be increased and any abnormal morbidity and mortalities must be immediately reported to State Veterinary Services.

The department warned that South Africa has prohibited vaccination of chickens against Notifiable Avian Influenza and no vaccine against this disease is registered in the country.

No farmer should allow their chickens to be vaccinated, the department said.


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