A commercial chicken-layer farm in Ekurhuleni, Gauteng has had an outbreak of Avian Influenza – also known as Bird Flu – this week, and the deadly pathogens have led to an emergency response from the Land and Agriculture Department.

Farm under quarantine after Bird Flu outbreak

Furthermore, the Gauteng veterinary authorities have placed the farm under quarantine, while investigating the outbreak. Ministry spokesperson Reggie Ngcobo in the statement said authorities were also performing back and forward tracing to determine the extent of the outbreak and assist with safe disposal of dead chickens and disinfection of the farm.

“The samples from this farm that were sent to the laboratory tested positive for the H5 strain of avian influenza (Bird Flu). It must be said that this farm was also part of the H5N8 highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) outbreak in 2017.”

“Poultry farmers have to be on the lookout for signs of disease that may indicate avian influenza and report any suspicion to the nearest state veterinarian for immediate investigation.” | Reggie Ngcobo

What are the symptoms of Avian Influenza?

Farmers have been told to look out for the tell-tale signs of Bird Flu, which become easily noticeable if they encounter an outbreak. Over 300 birds have succumbed to the disease in Ekurhuleni, and many more birds have been killed to prevent the spread of the disease further. The most recognisable symptoms of Avian Influenza include:

  • Quietness and extreme depression.
  • A sudden drop in production of eggs, many of which are soft-shelled or shell-less.
  • Wattle and combs become red and swollen.
  • There is also swelling of the skin under the bird’s eyes.
  • They experience coughing, sneezing, nervousness signs, and diarrhoea.
  • Affected birds also have haemorrhages (blood spots) on the hock.

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Presh JM Reporter

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