While the SA Poultry Association discusses with the government on measures to take in managing the risks involved in the bird flu outbreak, the National Director of Animal Health, Dr Mpho Maja says consumers have nothing to worry about chicken meat in the store because they are safe for consumption.
Ever since the outbreak of the bird flu across southern Africa, South Africa’s poultry association have actively engaged the government on how best to strike a balance between the disease management and its financial risk
The outbreak of the disease in parts of the country – like Mpumalanga province where about 24,000 birds are reportedly infected – has generated much panic among South African poultry owners and consumers.
To lessen its spread, the SA government had introduced a ban on the sale of live poultry and to this end, the poultry association’s Kevin Lovell said the outbreak has not reached a crisis point and that the affected farms make up a small percentage of South Africa’s poultry supply.
What government is saying is how do we stop this disease-spreading? Banning the sale of live birds is one such way. Today in our meeting we will look at what is the fair balance between business continuity and disease spread risk. No right answer. It is a discussion.
One is a commercial egg laying farm, 1% of South Africa’s egg supply is affected. It sounds like a lot of chickens but it is not a lot of eggs. It is not a crisis yet. The first farm was a boiler breeder farm, also a small percentage of South Africa’s supply.
It is not a crisis yet. If it spreads it could become a crisis and fortunately for us, this particular strain does not affect people. It just affects farmers, says Kevin Lovell.
Meanwhile, Dr Mpho Maja said though government banned the sale of live chickens to limit the spread of bird flu, consumers can freely consume products in stores without any fear of being infected.
“It takes about 4 to 7 days before a disease is manifested if a bird is infected, so in that 4 to 7 days we would not know that those birds are affected. If the culls are infected and incubating the disease, they re going to further spread it.
It is not for consumer protection, it is basically to prevent the spread of the disease. The WHO, as well as the World Organisation for Animal Health, have confirmed that the H5N8 does not affect people, the director ended saying.
H5N8 is a subtype of the Influenza A virus that is considered one of the less pathogenic subtypes for humans.