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South Africa bans poultry imports over bird flu concern

South Africa has banned imports of poultry products from countries infected with the avian influenza virus

According to South African Poultry Association (SAPA), Canada, UK, Germany, and the Netherlands had culled thousands of birds due to outbreaks of the avian influenza virus, also known as bird flu.

Charlotte Nkuna, director of the Poultry Disease Management Agency at SAPA, said, “Importers, as well as the poultry industry, must immediately stop importing live poultry, poultry meat and processed poultry products from affected countries as well as those that transit through those areas to South Africa.”

Sol Motsepe, senior executive at SAPA, added that the department will ban imports until affected countries were rid of the virus, which will only be the case three months after the last positive case had been reported.

Motsepe, however, mentioned that the poultry from local suppliers was safe to eat and they were able to meet the country's demands.

Emphasising the importance of the safety of local poultry for South African consumers, Nkuna stated that the country runs a surveillance programme where producers test their flocks twice a year to detect any emerging influenza strains within the poultry populations.

“We nevertheless remain vigilant with the highest levels of biosecurity in place as successful eradication depends on a country’s ability to respond quickly with high levels of human and financial resources to stop the spread of the infection,” Nkuna noted.