Bird Flu Hits South Africa – BuzzSouthAfrica reported earlier this month that the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries imposed a ban on poultry importation from Zimbabwe.
That was after it emerged that the neighbouring country is battling a bird flu outbreak.
We related that the outbreak killed 7,000 birds and forced the culling of another 14,000 in order to prevent the spread of the viral infection.
Then, keepers of chickens, geese and ducks, including backyard farmers were urged to immediately report any unusual mortality of chickens or other birds to the State Veterinary Services.
They were also encouraged to observe minimum biosecurity measures to prevent the disease in their birds.
Bird Flu Hits South Africa, Mpumalanga Province
Now, it has been confirmed that South Africa has been hit by avian influenza. As learnt, about 24,000 birds in Mpumalanga has contracted the viral infection.
This is according to the Department of Agriculture‚ Forestry and Fisheries. The Department’s spokesperson, Bomikazi Molapo related that South African Veterinary Authority was informed about the high mortality of birds near the Mpumalanga provincial border.
Molapo told BusinessDay that samples collected from the farm in Mpumalanga yielded a positive result for a highly pathogenic avian influenza, H5N8.
“The department has agreed with the company to euthanise the birds in affected houses in collaboration with the National Council of SPCAs (NSPCA)
“The affected property has 12 self-contained sites with a total of approximately 285,000 birds. And so far, only one self-contained site, with approximately 24,000 birds has been affected.
“As part of the emergency response, the farm has been placed under quarantine and veterinary services will continue to monitor the farm,” Molapo added.
Things You Should Know About Bird Flu
There are several forms of the virus causing bird flu. Most forms of the virus are restricted to birds but, it’s known that the viral infection can infect humans and other animals. The only type of bird flu with a high mortality rate is H5N1. Other types don’t have a high mortality rate.
It’s unnecessary to panic about the outbreak of avian influenza in South Africa. The authorities have guaranteed that the viral infection will be contained. Disregarding that, the following are simple 5 ways to ensure your safety.
1. Avoid the things that cause bird flu
History says that the first bird flu virus to infect humans was the H5N1. Records have it that the first infection occurred in Hong Kong in 1997. And, that the outbreak was linked to handling infected poultry.
While H5N1 was naturally traced in wild waterfowl, it was discovered that the infection is viral among domestic poultry like other forms of bird flu.
Typically, humans get to contract the disease through contact with infected bird faeces and secretions. Touching contaminated surfaces can also spread the infection.
2. Mind how you consume cooked poultry and eggs
Eating undercooked poultry or eggs will expose you more to the risk of being infected.
You mustn’t avoid eating cooked poultry and eggs. You just have to ensure that they are properly cooked.
According to healthline, “Meat is considered safe if it has been cooked to an internal temperature of 165ºF (73.9ºC). (And,) consuming properly cooked poultry or eggs from infected birds doesn’t transmit the bird flu. But, eggs should never be served runny.”
3. Be aware of other bird flu risk factors
Know that you have a greater risk of contracting bird flu if you are: a poultry farmer, a household member of an infected person; have been exposed to infected birds, a traveller visiting affected areas or a healthcare worker caring for infected patients.
If you can identify yourself with any of those risk factors, ensure you wash your hands regularly and practice good hygiene.
4. Watch out for these symptoms
The common flu-like symptoms are the symptoms of bird flu. If you’ve been exposed to any of the bird flu risk factors, watch out for these symptoms:
- Fever (often high fever, > 38°C)
- Sore throat
- Muscle aches
WHO said other early symptoms may include abdominal pain, chest pain and diarrhoea.
“The infection may progress quickly to severe respiratory illness (for example, difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, pneumonia, Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome) and neurologic changes (altered mental status or seizures),” added the World Health Organisation.
5. Get Help
Experts have advised that it’s important to get help from medical authorities if you experience bird flu symptoms within few days of being exposed to any of the bird flu risk factors.
The advice was stress by WHO. The organisation warned that avian influenza in humans does develop into a serious disease that should be treated promptly in the hospital.
“The antiviral medicine oseltamivir can reduce the severity of illness and prevent death, and should be used in all cases,” instructed the organisation.
Again, there’s no cause for alarm over the bird flu outbreak in South Africa. The type discovered is H5N8. H5N1 is the only type with high mortality rate.