Zim culls 215 000 chickens

Harare – Zimbabwe has culled 215 000 chickens to stop the spread of the highly contagious bird flu virus, the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) said on Thursday.

Zimbabwe last week announced a second outbreak of the H5N8 bird flu at Lanark farm, near the capital. The same farm was hit by avian flu in May.

South Africa and the Democratic Republic of Congo also reported an outbreak of the disease in June.

In response to the bird flu outbreak, Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries and FAO are currently meeting in South Africa to find ways of preventing the further spread of the disease.

In a statement released at the meeting, FAO said if not controlled, the bird flu outbreak could lead to huge economic losses to SADC member countries  due to culling of poultry and trade restrictions.

“Since the first outbreak in the region in May 2017, the Member States have already implemented a series of actions including heightened surveillance, quarantine, importation bans of poultry and poultry products from affected countries and awareness raising. In addition, depopulation has already taken place in affected countries. South Africa has so far culled over 800 000 birds, while Zimbabwe puts the figure at approximately 215 000 birds. This is likely to have a knock on effect on the availability of table eggs and poultry meat for consumers in the region,” said FAO.

Avian influenza is a virus that occurs naturally among wild birds worldwide and it affects domestic poultry and other birds and animal species.

The disease can only be transmitted to chickens by direct contact with an infected bird, manure or contaminated equipment.

– New Ziana

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