There have been no new confirmed avian influenza infections in the Western Cape the past week, Alan Winde, Minister of Economic Opportunities, announced. This signals a possible positive turning point for the industry.
There are currently 63 confirmed cases of avian influenza in the Western Cape, but no new cases have been confirmed since 18 October.
To date, 2.8 million commercial poultry birds have been culled. The majority of the birds culled were layer hens. In total, 121 363 broiler breeder chickens have died or been culled, and 28 717 duck broilers and 3 954 duck broiler breeders have died or been culled.
“We are still investigating a small number of suspected cases, but the infection rate appears to be slowing down. This is the first time since the infection started spreading in our province at the start of August that we have seen a marked decrease in the number of new infections. In other countries, infections for this strain of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza have decreased in summer, due to the heat.
“Our focus now is to rebuild our poultry industry. We are assisting farmers to make sure their poultry houses are cleaned, so that they are able to start the restocking process. Animal Health Technicians are supporting farmers in this process. I want to appeal to farmers to refrain from restocking until their poultry houses have been confirmed as clean. Restocking when the virus is still present will only lead to more culling.”
Minister Winde said the impact on food prices is being monitored. “We have observed price increases, but we will only have official numbers next week when Statistics South Africa releases its Consumer Price Index. These figures will show us the prices for October.”
Since this strain first reached South Africa in June this year, there have been in excess of 90 confirmed cases across the country. It is the first time the H5N8 strain has occurred in the country.
The Joint Operations Centre established by the Western Cape Department of Agriculture and the Provincial Disaster Management Centre continues to meet to provide a progress report on the provincial government’s response to the outbreak.
A humanitarian relief plan is being rolled out in partnership with social organisations. – Press Release