CAPE TOWN, July 12 (Xinhua) -- The outbreak of bird flu continued to spread in South Africa, leading to the disruption of exports of raw meat, eggs and live birds to some trade partners, authorities said on Wednesday.
The highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5N8 virus was confirmed in two more locations in South Africa, bringing the total of affected properties to four, the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) said in its latest update on the pandemic.
The new locations involved commercial layer chickens on farms in Gauteng and Mpumalanga provinces, the department said.
The two farms were immediately placed under quarantine by the State Veterinarian as necessary measures to contain and eliminate the disease as efficiently as possible on both farms, spokesperson Bomikazi Molapo said.
The quarantine includes, as a minimum, a prohibition of the movement of chickens and chicken products onto and off the farm.
The outbreak was first reported in June on two farms in Mpumlanga Province, triggering nationwide concern. South Africa had never reported an outbreak of bird flu before.
South Africa has banned the sale of live chickens due to the outbreak.
The export of products, which had been processed to ensure destruction of the virus, is continuing, unless the trade partner has raised an objection, Molapo said.
The HPAI H5N8 virus does not affect humans, and the Department of Health through the National Institute of Communicable Diseases tested workers from the affected farms and no human cases have been detected, Molapo said.
Increased surveillance in wild birds, commercial chickens and backyard chickens is continuing, she said.
Chicken owners, farmers and the public should remain vigilant and all cases of high mortalities in chickens and other birds should be reported to the nearest state veterinarian, said the spokesperson.
The public is advised to avoid any gathering of chickens for shows, auctions and similar activities, Molapo said.
However, should such activities continue, the organizers are advised to liaise with the State Veterinary Authorities and the auction houses must also be registered with the Poultry Disease Management Agency, she added.
The HPAI is a rapidly spreading viral disease that can infect many types of birds and it is highly contagious. It exists naturally in many birds and can be transmitted by coming into contact with infected animals or through ingestion of infected food or water. No effective treatment for the disease has been found.