South Africa has suspended imports of birds and chicken products from neighbouring Zimbabwe after it reported an outbreak of highly pathogenic H5N8 bird flu at a poultry farm, the agriculture department said on Thursday.
The H5N8 strain has been detected in several countries in Europe, Africa and Asia over the past two years, its spread aided by wild bird migrations. Highly pathogenic among fowl, the risk of human infection is low, according to the World Health Organisation,
“We have heightened inspections of all consignments, including all private and public vehicles at all our ports of entry, especially in and out of Zimbabwe,” South Africa’s department of agriculture said in a statement.
It said veterinary authorities in the rural province of Limpopo that borders Zimbabwe “are on high alert and have increased their surveillance especially in backyard chickens.”
Botswana’s ministry of agriculture and food security also said in a statement that it was suspending the import of domesticated and wild birds and their products from Zimbabwe, while local media reported Mozambique had imposed a similar ban.
The virus was detected on a farm with 2 million birds in Lanark, Zimbabwe, and killed 7,845 animals, the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) said last week.
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