Zimbabwe is on high alert following an outbreak of bird flu in South Africa’s Overberg area of the Western Cape that has led to the mass death of wild seabirds, Department of Veterinary Services (DVS) chief director Dr Josphat Nyika said last week.
Poultry import bans were in place and border checks were being made to prevent any possible spread of the virus from South Africa and countries in Europe that have reported cases.
“No, there are no reports of an outbreak of high pathogenic avian Influenza (HPAI) in the country so far,” said Dr Nyika.
“We have strengthened our surveillance mechanism at our borders.
“The last reported case was in 2017 and the outbreak was nipped in the bud.”
This year alone, there have been confirmed reports of an outbreak of avian influenza on a commercial chicken-layer farm in Ekurhuleni, Gauteng, and recently on Dyer Island, situated off the coast of Gansbaai in the Overberg area of the Western Cape in South Africa.
Apart from South Africa, Germany and the Netherlands in Europe have also confirmed the outbreak of the highly pathogenic H5N1 bird flu.
The outbreaks in Germany and Netherlands have forced Namibia to suspend imports of live poultry, birds and poultry products from Germany and the Netherlands.
The Namibian veterinary services directorate announced recently that it had with immediate effect suspended the import and in-transit movement of live poultry, birds, raw poultry products, live ostriches and ostrich products from the two countries.
“Since the 2017 outbreak, we have remained on high alert. We have reviewed and revamped our avian influenza preparedness and response plan,” said Dr Nyika.
“We have heightened surveillance at our borders with South Africa. In addition, we have advised farmers to tighten up their biosecurity to prevent outbreaks. Zimbabwe has suspended imports from all affected countries.”
Dr Nyika said applications could be processed on a case-by-case basis.