New avian flu discovered in North West, South Africa
Farmers encouraged to produce more to self-sustain
The Republic of South Africa South Africa’s poultry industry is still on thin ice following another outbreak of Avian flu which was reported on a farm in the North West. This discovery is set to cause more of SA’s neighbouring countries to ban the importation of their locally produced broilers and eggs.
Currently, three countries, that is Botswana, Namibia and Mozambique have suspended imports as a means of controlling the possibility of the Avian flu penetrating their country supply. Speaking to Farmer’s Weekly this past week, Acting General Manager of the South African Poultry Association (SAPA) Egg Organization, Colin Steenhuisen said he had been notified of trucks delivering eggs being turned away from the Mozambican border on Friday, 16 April. He further mentioned that they had not received any official communication from Mozambican authorities regarding the matter at the time of publishing.
The Department of Verterinary services, under the Ministry of Agricultural Development and Food security, has listed a number of clinical signs of affected birds, among them sudden death without any signs; Lack of coordination; Purple discoloration of the wattles, combs, and legs; Soft-shelled or misshapen eggs; Lack of energy and appetite; Diarrhea; Swelling of the head, eyelids, comb, wattles and hocks; Nasal discharge; Decreased egg production; Coughing, sneezing.
Media liaison officer at the Department of Verterinary Services, Henry Toto, said efforts towards responding effectively to the situation include a press release issued on 14 April 2021 urging farmers and the general public to be vigilant and report any suspicious clinical signs in both domestic and wild birds to the nearest veterinary office to enable rapid response in the event that the disease is present in Botswana. “Furthermore, the department has banned the importation of domestic and wild birds and their products form the Republic of South Africa as well as cancellation of veterinary import permit issued in respect of the listed items,” he added. Toto emphasized that importation has been suspended to allow the Republic of South Africa to establish the extent of the spread of the disease. However, Importation of poultry and poultry products from other countries is allowed subject to normal import protocols. The ban on importation has since been reversed, as of 22 April and poultry suppliers have resumed business as usual.
Moreover, he said that preliminary investigations have shown that there has not been any importation of susceptible birds from the affected farms in South Africa in the past 30 days. Toto further explained that, because the AI is a highly contagious viral disease that affects both domestic and wild birds as well as humans and less frequently other mammalian species, the department has a surveillance system in place to detect the presence of AI in poultry in Botswana should it find its way into the country. The extensive surveillance has not picked up any viral circulation of HPAI in the country yet.
According to Toto, outbreaks of animal diseases occur from time to time and it is the responses by the farming community to these outbreaks that define farmers. “To date our farming community has always been supportive in combating animal diseases and we are confident that they will continue doing that to ensure that we protect the poultry against HPAI,” he said. He also said the desire is for local farmers to produce enough locally to be able to sustain the country and be able to export their products.
Prominent businessman and founder of associated Investment Development Corporation (AIDC), which is the controlling shareholder of Tswana Pride, Abdul Satar Dada said the ban had no effect on their business as it was short lived. “I also believe that we are sufficient enough to have sustained the importation ban. It is impossible to tell now if the avian flu has reached the country, after all we are living in times of catastrophe and only God knows when things will transpire,” he added.