Zimbabwe, SA cull 1mln chickens in bid to stop bird flu

Zimbabwe, SA cull 1mln chickens in bid to stop bird flu

HARARE, August 3 (The Source) – Zimbabwe and South Africa have culled over a million chickens in a bid to curb the spread of the highly contagious bird flu, the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) said on Thursday.

Zimbabwe, which at the weekend announced a second outbreak of the H5N8 bird flu at Lanark farm about 25 kilometers south of Harare, culled 215,000 chickens.

The same farm was hit by avian flu in May.

South Africa, after suspending all trade in birds and chicken products from its neighbor reported an outbreak of the disease in June.

The Democratic Republic of Congo has also reported an outbreak of the avian influenza.

In response to the outbreak, Southern African Development Community (SADC) and FAO are currently meeting in South Africa to find ways of preventing further spread of the disease.

“Since the first outbreak in the region in May 2017, the Member States have already implemented a series of actions including heightened surveillance, quarantine, importation bans of poultry and poultry products from affected countries and awareness raising. In addition, depopulation has already taken place in affected countries. South Africa has so far culled over 800,000 birds, while Zimbabwe puts the figure at approximately 215,000 birds. This is likely to have a knock on effect on the availability of table eggs and poultry meat for consumers in the region,” said FAO in a statement.

SADC poultry industry has a population of 380 million chickens.

Avian influenza is a virus that occurs naturally among wild birds worldwide and it affects domestic poultry and other birds and animal species.

The disease can only be transmitted to chickens by direct contact with an infected bird, manure or contaminated equipment.