Avian flu hammering adds to poultry sector's woes
‘Obsessive and stringent’ biosecurity measures, including massive culling across SA and Zimbabwe, fail to halt the virus, writes Mark Allix
It spreads fast, is deadly to poultry and is potentially extremely costly, especially for an industry that is already reeling from the pressures of competing in global markets. In the past, it has been found among ostriches in the Eastern Cape, but never in chickens in SA — until now. So, when South African Poultry Association CEO Kevin Lovell said in early June 2017 that an outbreak of the highly pathogenic H5N8 avian flu virus in Zimbabwe’s poultry industry was "very worrying", he was right. The virus has since jumped the border and there have been 11 outbreaks in SA — the latest being reported on Sunday, when JSE-listed RCL Foods acknowledged the flu had hit its Viva farm in Gauteng. Scott Pitman, MD of the company’s consumer division, says the outbreak occurred despite "obsessive and stringent" biosecurity measures. The group is working with authorities to gather industry research on how best to contain it, he says. "It should be noted that the virus is not known to affect human...