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01 November 2011

Bird flu hits Graaff-Reinet

Ostriches have tested positive for bird flu on a farm in Graaff-Reinet in the Eastern Cape.

More than 800 ostriches infected with avian influenza were culled recently following an outbreak on a Mossel Bay farm.

South Africa has self-imposed a ban on ostrich exports, reportedly costing the industry millions every month.

The European Union's initial ban on ostrich exports hit the industry hard earlier in 2011 when thousands of birds were culled after an outbreak on farms in Oudtshoorn.

The EU eventually lifted the ban, but it was a matter of days before the Agriculture Department again halted exports after more ostriches tested positive for avian influenza on a Mossel Bay farm.

Agriculture spokesperson Wouter Kriel said several of the farmer's birds have been destroyed.

“It’s 820 birds and the farms in a radius of 10 kilometres surrounding that farm were also tested and no further positive tests were identified,” he said.

While the Oudtshoorn area remains under quarantine, Kriel said they will meet with the EU soon to discuss a plan of action.

- EWN