Last updated on Jun 23rd, 2021 at 12:40 pm

The bird flu pandemic that rocked the South African poultry industry in 2017 is back and has affected three chicken farms in Gauteng. Although this might seem like a minor outbreak, the international reaction has been resolute. 

Botswana, Mozambique and Namibia are among other international countries that have stopped South African chicken products from entering their markets.

Here’s what you need to know about bird flu and how it affects you

Can people get bird flu? 

Bird flu or the avian flu is deadly to birds, but is rare in humans and symptoms can range from mild to severe. 

Symptoms of bird flu in humans included conjunctivitis, flu-like sickness, nausea, abdominal pain, diarrhoea, and vomiting,  shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, pneumonia, respiratory distress, viral pneumonia, respiratory failure, an altered mental status and seizures.

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Can you get bird flu from eating infected food?

Bird flu can infect domestic birds and birds raised in commercial farms. Although it is not advisable to handle or eat an infected bird or products from an infected bird, bird flu is not a foodborne virus. 

Bird flu is spread from infected birds to humans through the respiratory tract, contact with the bird, its faeces or surfaces where infected birds have been.

Should I stock up on chicken and eggs?

Chicken and chicken products including eggs are a popular source of protein for South Africans. 

The 2017 outbreak of the avian flu created a shortage of chicken products in South Africa. The available stock more expensive than customers had been used to. 

Interim general manager of the South African Poultry Association’s egg board, Colin Steenhuisen, told Business Insider South Africa that the poultry industry had learned from the bird flu outbreak in 2017 and had taken steps to ensure that there would not be any shortage of chicken products during the current outbreak.



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