Bird flu outbreak in Mpumalanga confirmed

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The ban, which also affects street traders, is the department's attempt to contain the outbreak, after the highly contagious influenza strain was detected at a breeder site in Mpumalanga last week.

Cape Town: South Africa has banned the sale of live hens throughout the country in a bid to control an outbreak of highly contagious H5N8 bird flu, but no humans have been affected, the government said on Monday.

A statement by the country's agriculture department read, "Exports of processed poultry products, live chickens and fresh produce will continue depending on the requirements of importing countries".

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"The ban has no timeline but we will wait for indications from them (South Africa)‚" said Zimbabwe's veterinary services director Dr Josphat Nyika.

The South African National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) says although the risk of transmission of influenza A (H5N8) to humans is extremely low, personal protective equipment including gloves, disposable aprons/clothing and masks capable of preventing inhalation of aerosolized virus particles, should be used by all persons in contact with live or dead infected poultry.

This led to a ban issued by the authorities in Zimbabwe on all poultry imports coming from South Africa.

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"Since the incubation period of the disease is 21 days as set by the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), the suspension will take effect 21 days prior to the date of start of the event", he said.

"The farm has been placed under quarantine and over 25‚000 of the infected birds will be culled".

The department has also increased its passive surveillance and urged commercial and backyard farmers to report any cases of large numbers of bird deaths to the nearest state vet.

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