The decision by the United Kingdom government to ban all poultry exports from 7 November because of extensive outbreaks of avian influenza (bird flu) was an extreme move, but the correct decision, said the SA Poultry Association’s Izaak Breitenbach.
The UK, suffering its worst bird flu outbreak, has also ordered all poultry and captive birds to be housed indoors. The aim is to prevent contact with wild birds, which carry the disease.
In an interview with the Afrikaans radio station RSG, Breitenbach said bird flu, previously a winter phenomenon, was now a year-round disease that was rampant in the UK and the European Union, and was “out of control” in North America.
The UK and the EU had previously been a major source of chicken imports to South Africa, but because of the extensive bird flu outbreaks South Africa had banned imports from them.
Breitenbach said South Africa had had a few bird flu outbreaks last year, and two outbreaks in September that had not spread further. However, South Africa remained under pressure because migrating wild birds had brought the virus from Europe and it was circulating in the country’s wild bird population.