Officials with the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Animal Production and Health in Pretoria reported an outbreak of Highly pathogenic avian influenza virus (HPAI) H5N8 on a farm in Dipaleseng, Mpumalanga Province to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) today.

Image/Alvaro1984 18
Image/Alvaro1984 18

According to the report, 25,000 birds died out of 243,000 susceptible birds.

The following measures have been applied: quarantine, disposal of carcasses and destruction of animal products.

The Department of Agriculture, Forestries and Fisheries (DAFF) is providing veterinary support including diagnostics, surveillance and control measures. Farmers who suspect infection in their poultry should notify the local State Vet office or Extension officer who will visit the farm, investigate the incident and collect samples from the birds to rule out the disease.

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.

Handwashing with disinfectant soap after contact with birds is essential. Any persons with known or suspected close contact with dead or ill birds that have confirmed A(H5N8) infection and who present with upper or lower respiratory tract symptoms (cough, runny nose, scratchy throat, or pneumonia) and/or conjunctivitis should be investigated.

Clusters of three or more cases of severe respiratory illness (hospitalization or death) which are epidemiologically linked should also be investigated even if there is no documented bird exposure.