Outbreak of bird flu in South Africa not H5N1

04-07-2006 | |

A small outbreak of avian influenza was detected on an ostrich farm about 30km west of Mossel Bay in the Western Cape, according to the Department of Agriculture and Land Affairs.

The farm where the bird flu virus was detected had been put under quarantine and all sixty ostriches on the farm had been destroyed, the department added.

The department said it was hoped that the outbreak would be curtailed rapidly and that South Africa’s export status for ostriches and poultry would not be affected.

“After a few ostriches became sick, swift reaction by private veterinarians and laboratories ensured that the outbreak was rapidly reported to the government veterinary authorities,” the department stated.

“Over the weekend, the Onderstepoort Veterinary Institute characterised the virus as an H5N2 strain that is in no way related to the highly pathogenic H5N1 strain that has caused large-scale poultry mortalities in the Far East, Europe and Northern Africa,” the department said.

“The H5N2 strain that was detected near Mossel Bay seemed similar to the one that South Africa eradicated successfully from ostriches in 2004/2005 and that never crossed over to chickens. South African ostrich and poultry meat remains safe for consumption,” the department added.

The National and Western Cape province departments of agriculture, with full support from industry and the local disaster management structures, took immediate and effective action, the department stated.