In our Avian Flu Barometer, we will be keeping a record of cases to date, both globally and in South Africa. The purpose is to keep a running total as a resource for reporters and researchers, to track the progress of the disease and its impact on the poultry agricultural sector.
We will soon be adding maps and a fully-integrated list of cases.
The news focus during October has moved to the losses to the poultry industry (estimated at R3billion); a looming shortage of eggs and poultry in the coming months; the lack of compensation for farmers that are forced to cull their flocks (and the resultant reluctance of these same farmers to cull) and the discussions in the agricultural sector, the poultry industry and the import/export sector about how to mitigate against food shortages.
The timeline of the epidemic is as follows:
- May: first reports of a few localised outbreaks of avian flu
- June/July: there is growing alarm at the severity and speed of the disease
- August: the disease is now recognised as a new and ongoing threat
- September: a new mutation is discovered (N1H7) which is unique to South Africa and appears to have developed spontaneously in the country;
- September: the impact of culling on egg supplies becomes evident;
- September: there is a need to find egg substitutes as the shortage takes hold;
- September: there is a growing discussion around the need for vaccines as it becomes clear that this is a long-term threat to the viability of our poultry industry;
- October: poultry producers are preparing to challenge the government on their culling policies that do not compensate the farmers for losses due to culling;
- October: news reports paint an alarming picture of egg and poultry shortages with predictions of steep price increases.
For more in-depth news analysis, go to our Poultry Analysis posts.
Directory of AI cases
The first ever HPAI H7 was detected in chickens in South Africa on samples collected in beginning of June 2023.
The first H7 PCR positive was detected in non-poultry in a backyard chicken flock in Gauteng Province in September 2023.
A total of seventy two (n=72) outbreaks were reported up to date. Fifty one of these outbreaks are located in
Gauteng Province; eleven in Mpumalanga Province; one in the Free State Province, four in Limpopo Province
and five in North West Province. Full genome sequencing is under way.
There are several other H7 PCR positives in Gauteng, North West, KwaZulu-Natal and Limpopo Provinces and
these will be reported upon receipt of the emergency reports.
In October, the H7 virus is found in the Western Cape and Mozambique.
(Statistics and graphs from: Avian Influenza: H5 and H& outbreak update report 29 September 2023 – Department: Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development.)
Temporal Distribution of the HPAI H5 Event in Poultry