Last Updated: 2014-10-23
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By Nthambeleni Gabara

PRETORIA, Oct 23 (NNN-SA NEWS) -- The outbreak of the bird flu virus in the past few years has cost South Africa about 4.0 billion Rand (about 362 million US dollars), says Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Senzeni Zokwana.

Speaking at the launch of the South African Veterinary Council Building here Tuesday, he said: “We have, in the last few years, been plagued by disease outbreaks with negative trade consequences. I am told that our inability to trade from outbreaks of avian influenza had cost us around R4 billion.”

Zokwana said a similar amount had been mentioned with regards to the outbreak of foot and mouth disease (FMD) in 2011, which has been resolved. “Earlier this year, we had our FMD status reinstated. I would like to invite all stakeholders to join hands and work together to ensure that we strengthen veterinary services in our country,” he said.

Zokwana said his department had reviewed the report of the World Animal Health Organization (OIE) on the Performance of Veterinary Services (PVS). The department had further requested the OIE to perform a gap analysis and was now awaiting the organization’s response.

“We are expecting the OIE to return to South Africa later this year to inspect our controls for FMD in Limpopo, KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga (provinces). It is my take that at a minimum, this sector should seek to meet minimum standards set by this body,” he said.

Avian influenza is very contagious among birds and can make some domesticated birds, including chicken, ostrich and ducks very sick and kill them. Last year, there was an outbreak of bird flu on an ostrich farm near Oudtshoorn in Western Cape Province. -- NNN-SA NEWS