The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) has notified the World Animal Health Organisation (OIE) that Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza, H5N8 strain, has been isolated from a broiler breeder flock in Villiers.
DAFF has agreed with the company to euthanize the birds in the affected houses in collaboration with the NSPCA.
The affected property has 12 self-contained sites with a total of approximately 285 000 birds, and so far only one self-contained site, with approximately 28 000 birds, has been affected. As part of the emergency response, the farm has been placed under quarantine and veterinary services will continue to monitor the farm. Culling of the affected birds is continuing.
The Mpumalanga Veterinary Authority is on the farm, assisting with quarantine implementation, culling and disinfection of the farm.
It is thought that the virus may have been introduced by wild birds as the affected farm is close to the Vaal River. Farmers are implored to be on high alert and implement strict biosecurity measures including restriction of movement of non-essential personnel and vehicles onto their farms.
Farmers are also advised to ensure that they provide personal protective equipment (PPE) and guidance on its use to visitors entering their farms to prevent introduction of infected materials on their farms. Such PPE should be disposed of on the farm.
The Poultry Disease Management Agency has developed the following guidance notes to assist farmers during this period.
How will I know my birds are infected?
Suspect HPAI if:
The birds are showing respiratory distress signs and depression;
A high number of birds are showing clinical signs – morbidity of up to 100%;
There is a sudden increase in mortality (deaths), at times up to 100%;
High mortalities in caged birds are experienced. These may be more insidious but still higher than is normally experienced within a production cycle.
If you see these signs, isolate the flock and contact your veterinarian and/or your state veterinarian. Consult the DAFF website www.daff.gov.za for the contact details of provincial directors and state vets in the various areas.
How is AI spread?
Migratory water birds are known to introduce the disease to susceptible flocks. The virus is shed through faeces, nasal and oral secretions. As a result, the virus can be spread through faecal material (manure) and fomites such as equipment and any objects that come from a house where infected birds are kept should be seen as a potential for spreading infection. Humans and vehicles can also spread the infection from site to site.
What do I do if I have sick birds?
Quarantine the farm, do not move birds, eggs or manure off the farm, and contact your veterinarian and the state veterinarian immediately. Implement all quarantine procedures as advised by officials of the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.
What general biosecurity measures can I employ to protect my flock?
Generally, biosecurity measures will in principle include:
Limiting the number of people working in the house(s) and or farms suspected to be infected – Dedicate personnel to these sites who should ideally not come into contact with those working in other non-infected houses and or farms.
Disinfect all vehicles entering and leaving the farm – only essential vehicles should enter and leave farms suspected to be infected. Ensure that the wheels and wheel hubs of these vehicles are disinfected during this process.
Prevent the movement of clothes, boots, equipment and any other materials that may carry the virus to other houses and farms.
Manure should be buried on site and covered in lime.
Disinfectants such as glutaraldehyde are effective against the HPAI virus
Avoid having water puddles on the farm to discourage wild birds, and avoid chickens sharing water with wild birds.
For free roaming birds, provide feed and water indoors or at least well underneath a low solid roof.
How do I monitor my flock?
Continue observing the birds on a daily basis. Follow monitoring instructions as provided by the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. Continue using accredited AI tests for routine monitoring. The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries is expected to release an official communique shortly that will provide guidance on mitigating possible risks to the South African Industry.
The South African Poultry Association
For Enquiries contact:
Dr. Ziyanda Majokweni
Director: Poultry Disease Management Agency
Mobile: 084 616 6084
Dr. Charlotte Nkuna
Executive: South African Poultry Association
Mobile: 082 884 4492
Mr. Kevin Lovell
Chief Executive Officer: South African Poultry Association
Mobile: 083 676 3830