Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza update

Author: National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD)

The outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza A (H5N8) in poultry is ongoing after its emergence in South Africa in June 2017. According to the OIE website, 24 localized outbreaks have been identified to date from three provinces (Mpumalanga, Gauteng and Western Cape) as follows: 10 outbreaks in commercial chickens, 3 outbreaks in commercial ostrich, 5 outbreaks in wild birds, 3 outbreaks in birds that were kept as a hobby and 3 outbreaks in backyard poultry. The OIE reports may be found at http://www.oie.int.

Similar to experience in other countries that have had the avian influenza A(H5N8) outbreak in the past, there have been no human cases of A(H5N8) in South Africa. Following the first reported avian influenza A(H5N8) outbreaks in poultry in South Africa, human surveillance to detect possible human infections was initiated by the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) in persons exposed to the virus on affected farms.

To date, 60 workers who had been exposed to infected birds have been tested and none have tested positive. Poultry and poultry products that are available for sale in retail outlets are safe for human consumption. There have been media reports that a learner from Centurion has been diagnosed with bird flu, NICD can confirm that there have been no confirmed cases of bird flu in South Africa.

Source: National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD)