Saturday, April 14, 2018

South Africa: North West Province Reports 3 Outbreaks Of `Bird Flu'


As we discussed earlier this week in FAO: Sub-Saharan Africa HPAI Situation Update, South Africa is gearing up for a second winter season of HPAI H5N8, which appeared in the Southern Hemisphere for the first time just under a year ago (see DAFF: South Africa On Alert For HPAI H5N8).
While the South African summer has seen very few outbreaks in commercial poultry operations, outbreaks in wild birds - including
endangered South African Penguins - have continued.
The most recent FAO update and for South Africa (Apr 11th) summarized their first year of HPAI H5N8:
South Africa H5N8 HPAI
  • Number of outbreaks* to date169
  • Regions affected: Eastern Cape, Free State, Gauteng, Limpopo, Kwazulu-Natal, Mpumalanga, North West, Western Cape
  • Outbreaks reported since last update: 5
  • Most recent outbreaks: Observed on 11 March 2018 in North West Province
Yesterday the South African Government announced three new `bird flu' outbreaks - presumably HPAI H5N8 - but without actually naming the subtype, once again from North West Province (aka Bokone Bophirima in Tswana or Noordwesin Afrikaans).
North West Environment and Agricultural Development on bird flu outbreak
13 Apr 2018
Bird flu outbreak in parts of North West province - farmers urged to exercise caution
The Department of Rural, Environment and Agricultural Development (READ) would like to confirm that parts of the Bokone Bophirima province has been hit by an outbreak of High Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) commonly known as Bird Flu.
Two of the outbreaks are in Madibeng (in Bojanala Platinum District) and one in Maquassie Hills.

One of the outbreaks involving commercial flock involves quails that are hatched, grown and slaughtered on the farm. The second outbreak in Madibeng involved wild ducks that were kept domestically as pets for recreational reasons. The two outbreaks are within a vicinity of less than 10km of each other. The third outbreak was detected in a semi commercial farm in Maquassie Hills.

In all outbreak farms a dedicated team from the Department of READ has been set aside to deal with the infected households to avoid spreading of the disease. The teams will continue to take samples randomly from remaining birds in instance where the birds were not totally culled. A different team of officials has been deployed to collect information from surrounding farms within a three km radius from the index farms. This was done to assess the extent of the spread to neighbouring farms.

The farms and plots affected have been put under quarantine and the terms of the quarantine explained to the owners. The owners have been advised on bio-security measures that were to be taken to prevent spreading of the virus to neighbouring houses by humans and also by faeces of affected birds.

They have also been advised to secure bird enclosures with bird nets to prevent wild birds from entering them. As the wild birds are often attracted to the domestic cages by available left over food, farmers were also advised to remove feed when it is not finished.

Avian Influenza is a viral disease of poultry that affects both domestic and wild birds. Wild birds are more resistant to the disease and tend to harbour it without showing any adverse clinical signs. However in situations of excessive stress, the animals’ immune system becomes compromised and it may start showing clinical signs or shreds the virus.

Domesticated poultry is highly susceptible to the virus and if they come into contact with it, results in heavy mortalities.

The primary source of infection in domesticated flock is contact with wild birds. It spreads within a farm through carriers like utensils, workers and their clothes and contaminated litter.

The poultry farmers in all the areas have been informed about the risk. Private Veterinarians have also been requested to assist farmers with biosecurity measures. The community at large is requested to report any increased mortality of birds that is noticed to the nearest State Veterinary office.
(Continue . . . )

Until  roughly 11 months ago, HPAI H5 was pretty much exclusively a Northern Hemisphere, or in the case of Indonesia - a equatorial zone - problem.  

But last spring and summer we watched as HPAI H5N8 made its way - first to interior Central Africa (Uganda and the DRC) - and then abruptly diving south to  Zimbabwe and South Africa last June.

With Southern Africa at the intersection of 3 major migratory flyways, and given HPAI H5's propensity to reassort and evolve, the global spread and evolution of HPAI flu has become considerably more complicated.

How that plays out is anyone's guess.  But more bird flu is never better than less.

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