Bird flu or Influenza A virus subtype H5N8 is causing havoc for poultry owners across South Africa, putting 132,000 jobs at stake.
The country is the 15th-largest in poultry-producing countries of the world. In 2016 the poultry industry in South Africa was responsible for 132,000 jobs.
Currently about 4-million birds have been or are in the process of being culled linked to the outbreak of avian flu. This could result in these jobs being cut back as well as those in secondary industries.
In the Western Province alone, 2-million birds have already died or been culled. Other provinces affected include Gauteng, Mpumalanga, North West, KwaZulu-Natal, Eastern Cape and the Free State.
According to the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries in South Africa, the outbreak of the highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) was first observed in June 19 2017 in Mpumalanga and verified as the H5N8 virus on June 22 at the Onderstepoort Veterinary Institute. About 260,000 birds had to be culled there alone.
At a media briefing on June 29 2017 Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Senzeni Zokwana said: "The type that has been reported is the highly pathogenic one and is extremely contagious."
The South African Poultry Association (SAPA) reported that the spread of the virus was as a result of ducks migrating to the Western Cape from Europe.
The World Organisation for Animal Health and the World Health Organisation both classified the H5N8 virus as zoonosis, saying that animal-to-human transmissions were not common, although the disease has been transmitted through direct contact with infected birds and in highly contaminated environments. They have reiterated that poultry products are not a danger but advised that poultry products be properly cooked when eaten. If the meat is contaminated by the virus, cooking will kill it.
H5N8 virus outbreaks:
Ireland 8,000 turkeys, 28,020 chickens, and 270,000 ducks were culled.
It first broke out in Europe and then spread to Asia.
October 2016 Hungary, Austria, Germany, Croatia, Denmark, Poland and Switzerland.
November 2016 The Netherlands, India, Israel, South Korea, Taiwan and Russia.
December 2016 South Korea, Japan, Germany, the United Kingdom and Germany
January 2017 France, Nigeria, Spain, Slovenia and Uganda.
February 2017 Northern Ireland
June 2017 Zimbabwe and South Africa