CAPE TOWN – WESTERN Cape Agriculture MEC Ivan Meyer announced yesterday that four poultry farms near Worcester, Malmesbury and Hopefield had been detected as infected with the avian influenza virus.
Two farms have been confirmed to have H5 highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI), though laboratory confirmation was still pending for the other two farms.
Meyer said that the relationship to the viruses present in the north of the country was unconfirmed.
The total number of birds that have been culled or have died from HPAI totalled approximately 134 000.
The Western Cape Veterinary Services was in the process of investigating other suspected cases.
Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development Minister Thoko Didiza, presenting her budget vote last week, said that animal and plant health were important for food security and agricultural trade.
“The current outbreak of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza affecting about six commercial farms in the country is being attended to by our veterinary services in the province supported by the national. Containment measures have been put in place in the affected farms. We continue with our surveillance so that we manage the spread. We have noted the setback that this has had in our regional markets,” said Didiza.
Agricultural Business Chamber chief economist Wandile Sihlobo said that this challenge tended to hinder agricultural trade and cause substantial financial losses for farmers.