The government of South Africa has placed a ban on the sale of live hens throughout the country in a bid to control an outbreak of highly contagious H5N8 bird flu.
The announcement was made in a statement issued on Monday by the country’s department of agriculture, which added that no humans had been affected, Reuters reports.
“Exports of processed poultry products, live chickens and fresh produce will continue depending on the requirements of importing countries.
“To date, no human cases of infection with avian influenza H5N8 have been reported.
“However, people handling wild birds, sick or dying poultry must wear protective clothing and wash their hands with disinfectants,” the department said.
The government further added that 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.
The government of South Africa had reported an outbreak this month of H5N8 bird flu on a commercial broiler breeder farm in Mpumalanga province, where about 5,000 birds died and the rest were culled.
It also suspended all trade in birds and chicken products from neighbouring Zimbabwe earlier this month after it reported the outbreak.
The H5N8 strain has been detected in several countries in Europe, Africa and Asia over the past two years, its spread aided by wild bird migrations.
Highly pathogenic among fowl, the risk of human infection is low.