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Fight deadly bird-flu with intense bio-security

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The most important weapons in the fight against the ever-present possibility of Avian influenza (bird flu) outbreaks is bio-security and well-trained staff remain.

Dr Sean Wisdom of C4 Africa, an expert on Avian influenza said the above is the main lesson learned from the terrible outbreak of the disease in South Africa last year. The outbreak resulted in 4.5 million dead birds and 1,300 job losses.

“It’s a single stranded RNA virus with eight different genes. These consist of low pathogenic (LP) and high pathogenic (HP) strains and only the HP ones kill birds,” said Dr. Wisdom at the Poultry Producers Association (PPA)’s information day in Winghoek recently.

Avian influenza (AI) viruses infect domestic poultry as well as pet, zoo, and wild birds. Dr. Wisdom said bird flu is an extremely complex disease with the virus using the chicken’s enzymes to activate and the HP can attack any organ of the animal, killing it quickly.

“Bio-security and well-trained staff remain the most important mechanisms to avoid the disease. If you do not attend to this, you will lose your entire farming operation,” he warned.

Typical symptoms of the disease are bleeding on legs, haemorrhages on head, chickens producing lots of white eggs with very runny whites and the chickens discharging greenish diarrhoea, which looks similar to when they have Newcastle disease.