wild birds

Bird flu found in wild birds in South Africa

Another four cases of the deadly bird flu virus was this morning confirmed at three different locations in South Africa – this time in wild bird populations.

According to a World Animal Health Organisation (OIE) alert, the H5N8 strain was found in Mpumalanga’s Lekwa Municipality in two southern masked weavers. It was also found in a yellow-billed duck and an Egyptian goose in Pretoria and in a flock of hobby geese in the Emfuleni Municipality.

According to the report, no planned control measures have been applied.

Dr Moetapele Letshwenyo, OIE representative in southern African, said it is worrisome that infected birds were found at different locations – within and between countries in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region, as well as between different types of birds, including the wild ones.

He told Africanfarming.com that infected wild birds, combined with below standard farm security, can increase the chance of infection since southern Africa lies within the migratory paths of birds coming from infected regions in Africa and beyond.

“Countries are encouraged to strengthen their targeted wild bird surveillance activities in areas where there are significant populations of waterfowl.”

Regional action plan

The SADC secretariat – with support from partners like the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the OIE – is spearheading the prevention and control efforts at regional level in southern Africa.

“They are currently reviewing the Emergency Preparedness Plan which was prepared during the 2005/’06 avian flu scare,” said Letshwenyo.

The chief veterinary officers from all SADC countries will meet next week to discuss this matter and set out a plan to deal with the disease.

Until now, four commercial farms in South Africa have confirmed the outbreak of the virus with strict measures being put in place to prevent the spread. This led to several neighbouring countries implementing import bans on South African poultry to curb the spread of the disease.

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