More than two million birds have died or have been culled since an outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza – or bird flu – was confirmed in the Western Cape in August, Economic Opportunities MEC Alan Winde said on Monday.
In a statement, Winde said that since August 36 cases of avian influenza had been confirmed in the province. In Winde’s previous update in early September, the number of birds culled was 200 000.
This is the first time that a highly pathogenic strain of bird flu has been detected in poultry in South Africa. There are an estimated 29 million commercially farmed chickens in the province, and 185 000 “backyard” birds. This means that near 7% of the province’s birds have died.
“The Western Cape is the worst affected province in South Africa. In some regions, poultry production farms are clustered in a specific area.
“In other provinces, cases have occurred at locations far removed from these hubs,” he said.
Twelve cases, all ostriches, have been confirmed in the Eden district.
Winde said the province had established a joint operations centre to facilitate the its response to the disaster.
“[The centre] requested the National Disaster Management Centre’s guidance to potentially declare the outbreak a provincial disaster.”
This is the first time that a highly pathogenic strain of bird flu has been detected in poultry in South Africa.