Bird flu appears again in South African ostriches

According to authorities in South Africa sixty ostriches have been found to have a form of bird flu on a farm in the Western Cape.

The outbreak was detected on an ostrich farm about 30km west of Mossel Bay and the Department of Agriculture and Land Affairs says at present the outbreak appears to be limited to that single farm which has been placed under quarantine and the ostriches have been culled.

The swift action as soon as the birds became sick has led experts to believe the outbreak is under control.

It appears the Onderstepoort Veterinary Institute have identified the virus as an H5N2 strain, similar but not related to the highly pathogenic H5N1 strain that has caused such devastation in poultry in the Far East, Europe and Northern Africa.

Officials have encountered this strain of the virus before in ostriches in 2004/2005 when it was successfully eradicated and around 15,000 ostriches were culled.

The virus did not affect chickens and officials say South African ostrich and poultry meat remains safe for consumption.

The European Union only resumed ostrich imports from South Africa in November last year after it declared itself free of H5N2 bird flu, which though deadly to animals, unlike the highly pathogenic H5N1 variety, is not harmful to humans.

The Department of Agriculture is hoping poultry exports will not be affected and has already started negotiations with South Africa's trade partners.


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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