Avian Influenza Outbreak Hits Irvine's

ZIMBABWE - The Government has put major poultry producer, Irvine's Private Limited's white meat and egg sub-sector under quarantine following an outbreak of avian influenza that left thousands of birds dead.
calendar icon 7 June 2017
clock icon 4 minute read

AllAfrica reports that the highly pathogenic virus killed 7000 birds and the company had to depopulate by slaughtering an additional 140,000 birds to prevent the spread of the disease.

Avian influenza is fatal in affected birds with nearly a 70 per cent death rate.

The current outbreak at Irvine's does not seem to affect people.

In a statement, Ministry of Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development's Department of Livestock and Veterinary Services Principal Director, Dr Unesu Ushewokunze-Obatolu, confirmed the outbreak.

She said Government had placed affected units of the compartment under quarantine and movement standstill.

"Affected units have been depopulated with stringent sanitary measures imposed. All trade partners, veterinary authorities of neighbouring countries and the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) have been notified as necessary," she said.

"Poultry keeping enterprises are urged to enhance their bio-security measures to promote tight and continuous separation from wild birds, while the exact source, thought to be wild ducks and geese in a nearby water body, is being investigated," she said.

Dr Ushewokunze-Obatolu said the outbreak of avian influenza involved the serotype H5 N8 of the Avian Influenza virus, which had been spreading in a second wave around the world since 2010.

The virus has been re-introduced to Europe from Asia, where it remained in continuous circulation and was detected in Uganda, among other countries in Africa, earlier this year.

"Influenza viruses are highly contagious and therefore spread very quickly in susceptible populations. The viruses occur naturally in wild water birds. However, the viruses change dynamically and highly virulent strains can occur from time to time, causing major human and animal illness and death," she said.

"Unlike other serotypes, which have caused concern in past years, H5 N8 wherever it has occurred recently, has not shown any risk to humans," she said.

Symptoms of avian influenza include quick illness and sudden deaths.

Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development Minister Dr Joseph Made, warned farmers against undermining authorities such as the Department of Veterinary Services and animal health departments.

"This concerns animal and plant diseases. To minimise the spread of diseases, farmers should respect various authorities that deal with plant and animal quarantine," he said. "We can all see what is happening to the varied weather conditions. We have come out of continuous rains from summer to winter; we had floods, torrential rains and in some pockets outbreaks of anthrax."

He said while rains were good, farmers should watch out for a number of diseases.

"When authorities give warnings to the public they should be respected so we can deal with situations that have been brought about by the varied weather conditions.

"The DVS is monitoring areas to look at avian influenza. Farmers should be on high alert and report to authorities any unusual occurrences such as sudden deaths of livestock and even wildlife. Farmers should report to extension officers," he said.

Further Reading

You can visit the Avian Flu page by clicking here.

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