Poultry farmers in the Western Cape in South Africa have been rattled by the rise in number of high pathogen avian influenza cases since the first case was recorded on 9 August.
Since then, 17 cases have been confirmed in the province and more than 200,000 chickens have either been culled or died from the disease.
Western Cape Minister of Economic Opportunities Alan Winde told media at a briefing in Cape Town that there were 17 confirmed cases.
The H5N8 strain has also been detected in other South African provinces, including the North West, Mpumalanga, Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal.
Mr Winde said the Western Cape government was determined to stop the spread of the disease, particularly among poultry farmers.
“It has huge implications to a big industry that supplies the country, and this province, with a big component of its protein intake, whether it be in chicken or in eggs.”
He added the outbreak was also having an economic effect with more than 100 job losses reported.
South Africa’s Agriculture Minister Senzeni Zokwana said in a recent media statement that the recent outbreaks of the H5N8 strain had sent shockwaves through the poultry industry.
The Minister said talks had been taking place on vaccination against the disease: “We all agree that this is not a simple discussion that can be taken lightly. It is a decision that should be based on scientific research for the long term benefit of the sector and the country.
“We set up a task team consisting of representatives from industry and Government to work on scientifically based considerations regarding vaccination. The first proposal was received by my team from the poultry interest group of vets recently and forms the basis of discussions. Detailed update will be communicated by the end of September 2017,” he added.