Namibia suspends imports and movement of live poultry

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Tests confirmed on June 22 that it was the highly pathogenic avian influenza H5N8.

The government said meat from healthy poultry was safe to eat due to strict inspections at abattoirs, though people were urged to avoid eating any birds found dead, dying or sick.

"Many businesses will be affected by the ban". South Africa suspended all trade in birds and chicken products from neighbouring Zimbabwe earlier this month after it reported an outbreak of the H5N8 bird flu at a poultry farm. We need to assess how big the chance is.

"We will be meeting with government officials soon to look at our emergency response planning".

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The deadly disease has been confirmed on a commercial laying farm as well as a broiler breeder farm, but only affects about 1% off the eggs consumed in South Africa.

The ban will be in place for 14 days after which the situation would be reassessed. According to the World Health Organisation, human infection with the H5N8 virus can not be excluded, although the likelihood is low, based on the limited information obtained to date.

"Since the incubation period of the disease is 21 days as set by the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), the suspension will take effect 21 days prior to the date of start of the event", he said. "Eggs are not allowed to move out of the farm", spokesperson Bomikazi Molapo said in a statement. The viruses naturally occur in wild water birds, but they change dynamically and highly virulent strains can occur from time to time, causing major human and animal illness and death. Farmers who suspect infection in their poultry should notify the local State Vet office or Extension officer who will visit the farm, investigate the incident and collect samples from the birds to rule out the disease.

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