SA bird flu not likely to impact Namibia

17 May 2021 | Agriculture

ELLANIE SMIT



WINDHOEK

Chances that outbreaks of bird flu in South Africa will affect Namibia are minimal and currently only poultry from affected farms have been banned from being imported to Namibia.

This according to the Namibian Agricultural Union (NAU), which said several poultry compartments in South Africa are temporarily banned from exporting to Namibia due to an outbreak of a highly contagious bird flu (avian influenza).

According to the NAU, a poultry farm in the Western Cape is the latest facility to report cases of bird flu alongside six other farms in Gauteng and the North West.

The NAU said the initial outbreak in the East Rand as well as one in North West have been identified as HPAI H5N1.

“The final results are awaited for the type of bird flu from the other outbreaks.”

Chairman of the Poultry Producers’ Association of Namibia, René Werner, said if the disease does not spread further in South Africa, only exports from the affected farms will be banned.

“The rest of the country is still safe to export.”

However, this may change in the next few weeks if the disease is not properly controlled.

If Namibians imported from the affected areas before the ban was introduced, a state veterinarian will visit those farms to ensure that the poultry is not affected. The chance that the disease will affect Namibia in this way is minimal, they said.

No treatment available

Bird flu is highly contagious to poultry and all birds. Symptoms in poultry range from a lack of energy, appetite and coordination, purple discoloration or swelling of various body parts, diarrhoea, nasal discharge, coughing and sneezing to reduced egg production or softened/deformed eggs. A sudden death ensues. At this stage, no treatment for the disease is available.

To prevent bird flu to some extent, the biodiversity on farms must be monitored. Cages must also be cleaned and secured regularly so that animals outside the cage do not have access to them. If bird flu breaks out on a farm, all poultry must be destroyed and buried to prevent the spread of the disease. Producers then have to start all over again.