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Zimbabwe bans poultry imports from South Africa

by Mafu Sithabile
15 Apr 2011 at 09:12hrs | Views
GOVERNMENT has banned, with immediate effect, all imports of poultry and poultry products from South Africa following an outbreak of Avian Influenza (H5N2) in ostriches at five commercial farms in the Western Cape Province.

Acting Principal Director Livestock and Veterinary Services Mr William Shereni said the ban was a precautionary measure ahead of the dispatch of a high-level team of veterinary experts to South Africa.
"The team will obtain a full understanding of the Avian Influenza situation from the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries there and the measures they have taken to control the outbreak.

"Avian Influenza mainly affects ostriches but if allowed to spread can easily mutate from H5N2 to H5N1 that affects chickens and can also kill people.

"H5N1 is very virulent in chickens and must therefore not be allowed to spread into Zimbabwe," he said.

Infected chickens die within seven days.

Avian Influenza, commonly known as "bird flu" is a highly infectious viral disease caused by influenza A viruses that infect both domestic and wild birds.

Though basically a disease of avian species, the disease can also infect humans, pigs and domesticated pets.

Symptoms include high respiratory signs, nervous disorders and diarrhoea and can cause high mortalities.

"Humans at high infection risk are poultry farmers and farm workers, vendors, consumers of poultry and those working in poultry slaughter houses," added Mr Shereni.

Zimbabwean veterinary authorities, said Mr Shereni, were on high alert and had intensified surveillance for the disease in all areas bordering South Africa.

"The poultry industry is urged to tighten bio-security measures at all chicken abattoirs and personnel manning the border ports of entry to ensure that ostriches and other birds are not allowed into the country especially through Beitbridge," Mr Shereni said.

He added that the Department of Animal Health of South Africa carries out surveillance missions every six months and so this current outbreak was picked in one of their missions.

Source - TNZ