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South Africa's Bird Flu Outbreak is 'Under Control', Egg Stock Replenishes, Gov't Says

© AP Photo / Denis FarrellChickens on a chicken farm in Lichtenburg, South Africa, Thursday, March 23, 2023.
Chickens on a chicken farm in Lichtenburg, South Africa, Thursday, March 23, 2023. - Sputnik Africa, 1920, 16.11.2023
Avian influenza (also called "bird flu") is a disease that normally spreads in birds, but can also infect humans. Since 2020, unprecedented outbreaks of this virus have been causing a huge number of deaths of wild birds and poultry in many African countries, including the Republic of South Africa, the World Health Organization stated.
The South African poultry industry is on track to recover from the recent outbreak of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza that began in January, the South African Department of Agriculture stated on Wednesday.

"[...] The department is happy that the HPAI outbreak is under control and that 70% of farms that were not infected continue to produce eggs and chickens," the department's statement said.

Many poultry farmers have been hit hard by the outbreak and have not received compensation for these losses under the Animal Diseases Act, according to the South African Poultry Association.
However, the government's and industry's quick response mitigated the worst effects of the outbreak, providing assistance to the industry, especially in the face of the upcoming December holidays. In particular, the government has purchased fertilized eggs, egg products, poultry meat, etc.

"We have increased fertilized eggs from 1.9 million to 9 million in less than one month. These eggs will be chickens in less than 4 months," Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development Thoko Didiza said.

To contain outbreaks of H7 and H5 variants of avian influenza, 8.5 million chickens were culled, including more than 2.5 million broiler breeders and approximately 6 million of laying hens, the South African Poultry Association estimated, which ultimately led to the egg shortage. The general manager Izaak Breitenbach of the Association also called the recent outbreak "by far the worst," according to the Associated Press.
A woman sells vegetables at the early morning market Thursday, June 24, 2010, in Durban, South Africa.  - Sputnik Africa, 1920, 12.06.2023
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Although the outbreak has been contained, the South African poultry industry faces other challenges, the association said. In particular, lack of equipment, insufficient access to fresh water, power outages and big discounts on imported chicken take a lot of resources away from the local industry to remain competitive.