PRETORIA, South Africa has reported eight new cases of the Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) H5N8 to the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), says the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.

The new cases were reported in Western Cape, Mpumalanga and North West provinces, bringing the total number of cases to 24 since June 2017.

Ten outbreaks were confirmed in commercial chickens, three in commercial ostrich, five in wild birds, three in birds which were kept as a hobby and three outbreaks were confirmed in backyard poultry, says Ministry spokesperson Bomikazi Molapo. All affected properties have been placed under quarantine and disease control measures have commenced, he said here Monday.

The continued cooperation of the public and the poultry industry, in the timeous reporting of sick and dying birds to Government Veterinary Services, is vital for the effectiveness of disease control measures instituted. The department therefore, thanks the public and the poultry industry for their support in this regard, Molapo said.

Meanwhile, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Senzeni Zokwana has met executives in the poultry industry who raised concerns on compensation and guidelines relating to the affected farms. Molapo said the draft guidelines have been completed and are subject to ministerial approval. The approved guidelines will be released to the industry and public by this Friday.

The industry also requested to be given permission to import fertile eggs to close the supply gap as a result of culled birds.

Molapo said only one company had submitted an application on Aug 24, to import hatching eggs, adding that the department was still performing the prescribed risk analyses to determine the appropriate level of risk.

We need to conduct a thorough risk assessment in order to avoid exposing the country to other disease risks. The basic work has been conducted and there are two options which will be presented to the poultry industry,” he added.

The first one is for the risk mitigation to be conducted in South Africa through stringent quarantine measures on arrival of the hatching eggs from their country of origin. The second option will be for stringent quarantine measures in the country of origin where eggs will come from compartments free of specified diseases that the department will approve, with less stringent post arrival quarantine measures.”