The North West government warned of an outbreak of bird flu in two districts of the province, and has urged poultry farmers to be vigilant

The province’s Department of Rural, Environment and Agricultural Development (READ) said outbreaks had been confirmed in Madibeng and Maquassie Hills.

Department spokesperson Kgalalelo Mashomo said the first outbreak in Madibeng involved quails that were hatched, grown and slaughtered on a farm, while another outbreak involved wild ducks that were kept domestically.

Mashomo said a third outbreak was detected on a semi-commercial farm in Maquassie Hills.

She said a dedicated team from the READ department was appointed to deal with the infected farms and households, to avoid the spreading of the disease.

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“The teams will continue to take samples randomly from remaining birds in instances where the birds were not totally culled.”

Mashomo said the affected farms and plots had been placed under quarantine and that the terms of the quarantine had been explained to the farm and plot owners.

“The owners have been advised on bio-security measures that were to be taken to prevent spreading of the virus to neighbouring houses by humans and also by faeces of affected birds,” Mashomo said.

“They have also been advised to secure bird enclosures with bird nets to prevent wild birds from entering them.”

Mashomo warned that domesticated poultry were highly susceptible to the bird flu virus and that it could result in high mortality rates among birds.

“The primary source of infection in domesticated flock is contact with wild birds. It spreads within a farm through carriers like utensils, workers and their clothes and contaminated litter,” Mashomo explained.