The outbreak of bird flu in two districts of the NW province has prompted the Department of Rural, Environment and Agricultural Development (READ) to put several farms and plots under quarantine. Outbreaks have been confirmed in Madibeng and Maquassie Hills.

Department spokesperson Kgalalelo Mashomo said the first outbreak in Madibeng involved quails that were hatched, grown and slaughtered on a farm, while another outbreak involved wild ducks that were kept domestically. A third outbreak was detected on a semi-commercial farm in Maquassie Hills.

Mashomo says poultry farmers in all the areas have been informed about the risk. Private Veterinarians have also been requested to assist farmers with biosecurity measures. The community at large is requested to report any increased mortality of birds that is noticed to the nearest State Veterinary office.

Avian Influenza is a viral disease of poultry that affects both domestic and wild birds. Wild birds are more resistant to the disease and tend to harbour it without showing any adverse clinical signs. However in situations of excessive stress, the animals’ immune system becomes compromised and it may start showing clinical signs or shreds the virus. Domesticated poultry is highly susceptible to the virus and if they come into contact with it, results in heavy mortalities.

The primary source of infection in domesticated flock is contact with wild birds. It spreads within a farm through carriers like utensils, workers and their clothes and contaminated litter.