SA poultry industry asks government to allow vaccination

A task team has been appointed to decide whether South African poultry farmers can vaccinate birds against the highly infectious H5N8 bird flu.

This comes after senior role players in the industry met with Senzeni Zokwana, Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.

The parties agreed that a decision about vaccination will be based on scientific research about the long-term advantages for the sector and the country.

According to a joint statement by the Department of Agriculture and the South African Poultry Association, the task team will investigate these scientific grounds.

They also discussed solutions and defence strategies for the outbreak.

“The current outbreak threatens the South African poultry industry and employment opportunities in the sector,” read the statement.

Industry voiced its concern about a lack of guidelines to compensate farmers affected, while the department agreed to make sure such guidelines are implemented.

Poultry farmers also asked permission to import fertilised eggs to bridge the gap that derived after birds with bird flu were slaughtered, with the department agreeing to take a decision soon.

Meanwhile, the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) said there was yet another outbreak of the H5N8 virus in South Africa.

The first outbreak in KwaZulu-Natal occurred on a farm in the AbaQulusi Municipality (Vryheid). 50 000 chickens were slaughtered.

There was also a report of an outbreak among backyard chickens in the Dr Pixley ke Seme- municipality (Volksrust, Wakkerstroom, Amersfoort) in Mpumalanga. 135 chickens were slaughtered.

Map – Reported cases of H5N8 avian flu in poultry and wild birds in southern Africa.

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