Windhoek-Government’s recent suspension on the import of live poultry due to an outbreak of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza only affects countries where poultry diseases outbreaks have recently been reported. Some of the affected countries include France, Germany, Hungary, Netherlands, Poland, Sweden, Ukraine, Russia, Denmark, United Kingdom, Italy, Greece, India and Nigeria. Local importers agree that the suspension is not really a great concern, citing the availability of reliable markets in neighbouring South Africa and in South America. Major poultry markets are still accessible and supply constraints have been avoided for now. This means consumers are not expected to fork out more for poultry products in the foreseeable future as supply chains continue to function.
“Due to the larger availability of poultry products throughout the world, the ban on certain countries should not affect local supply or prices. The ban from certain countries, who have been identified with poultry diseases, should not affect Namibian consumers.
A country will be allowed to export again, once that country can prove the disease has not been present for six months,” explained Pieter van Niekerk, Commercial Manager at Namib Poultry Industries, which currently supplies roughly 60 percent of the Namibian market. The remaining 40 percent of the market is supplied by imports from South Africa and countries in South America, who are not currently banned.
“Since the incubation period of the disease is 21 days as set by the World Organisation for Animal Health, the suspension takes effect 42 days, i.e, two incubation periods prior to the date of first detection. All previously issued import permits are hereby recalled,” reads a statement issued by Percy Misika, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry. The date stamp on the statement is Tuesday, February 07, 2017. Misika encouraged importers to contact the Veterinary Permits Office for more information on all the countries affected by the ban.
Avian influenza is an infectious disease in birds caused by type A strains of the influenza virus which occurs world-wide. All birds are thought to be susceptible to infection with avian influenza, though some species have been reported to be more resistant to infection than others. Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza is characterised by the sudden onset of severe illness and rapid death, with a mortality rate that can approach 100 percent. Common clinical signs include swelling and purple discolouration of the head, head, comb and wattle, swelling and red discolouration of the feet, bleeding of internal organs and muscles, greenish diarrhoea, twisting of the neck, staggering movement and paralysis of wings and legs.
Misika explained that diseases caused by some strains of the virus may be transmitted to humans. “Humans can be infected with the virus via the eyes, nose, mouth, through handling and coming into close contact with infected birds or through the handling of their saliva. mucus and faeces of infected birds and through consumption of poultry products from infected poultry,” the statement reads. There is no treatment for the bird flu.