The sale of live chickens in South Africa has been suspended until South African veterinarians can verify that the country’s chickens are free from the highly pathogenic Avian Influenza, said Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Senzeni Zokwana.
At a media briefing on Thursday, the Minister announced the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries’ interventions following the first ever outbreak of the feared H5N8-strain of bird flu on two farms in Mpumalanga.
Zokwana said the blanket trade ban will be in place for as long as it takes to declare the country free from the disease.
On Monday night the department confirmed a second case of avian flu in Standerton, after the first outbreak in a broiler breeder site near Villiers last Thursday.
The H5N8 strain, which does not pose a direct threat to humans, has already led to the deaths of millions of birds worldwide. Wild water birds play the biggest role in the rapid spread of the virus.
Zokwana said sellers of live chickens need to register with South Africa’s poultry disease association. Only registered sellers and buyers will be allowed to trade. He called on traders to make sure their counterparts are appropriately registered, which means a veterinarian needs to certify that the chickens are virus-free.
Altogether 260 000 chickens were culled and the two affected farms have been placed in quarantine, the Minister said.
He pointed out that the type of virus does not affect people and that the meat on the shelves are safe for human consumption, as it went through a certification process.