April 13 (Bloomberg) — South African veterinarians are trying to find ways of managing an outbreak of bird flu in the Western Cape province, said Wouter Kriel, a spokesman for the provincial agricultural ministry.
Hong Kong’s Center for Food Safety today said it suspended processing applications for imports of poultry, game birds and their products from South Africa following the outbreak, according to a statement published on the center’s website.
The outbreak was detected on five ostrich farms in Oudtshoorn and Uniondale during routine surveillance in March, according to a report submitted to the World Organization of Animal Health, or OIE. South Africa in 2005 lost 600 million rand ($89 million) in exports following an outbreak of avian flu, losing at least 26,000 of the birds and 4,000 jobs.
“If there’s a rapid response then the outbreak can be contained,” Maria Zampaglione, the head of communications at the OIE, said by phone from Paris today. The strain is the H5N2 variety, which is not that virulent, and is not related to the H5N1 subtype, she said.
At least 100 birds have died of the disease and about 14,900 birds are susceptible, the OIE’s report said. The source of the outbreak is unknown at this stage and the area has been placed under quarantine, it said. “The length of the quarantine depends on the efficacy of the veterinary services in the country,” Zampaglione said.
Since late 2003, H5N1 has killed at least 133 people, mainly in Asia, according to the World Health Organization.
The South African government has to send a report of any animal disease outbreak to the OIE within 24 hours of its confirmation, Zampaglione said. This needs to be followed by weekly updates until the case is resolved.
It is not yet known what other countries are implementing a ban on South African products, Kriel said.
–Editors: Vernon Wessels, Karl Maier
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Filed Under: Oudtshoorn Business News
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