Harare:Zimbabwe has banned poultry and poultry products from South Africa following an outbreak of Avian Influenza in Mpumalanga and Free State provinces. Department of veterinary services director Dr Josphat Nyika yesterday confirmed the ban. “The products include hatching eggs, table eggs, frozenchicken and mechanically de-boned meat,” said Dr Nyika. “The ban remains in force for an indefinite period of time up to when the South African veterinary officials would have indicated that the problem has been resolved.”

Government is in the process of mounting a risk-based survey of the wild bird population to establish possible primary source of the Avian Influenza, with an external international specialist support team expected in the country this week.

Zimbabwe was hit by an Avian Influenza outbreak earlier this month which left Irvine’s Private Limited’s white meat and egg sub sector under quarantine.

The highly pathogenic virus killed 7 000 chickens, but the company had to de-populate by slaughtering 142 000 birds to prevent the spread of the disease.

Influenza viruses are highly contagious and spread very quickly in susceptible populations.

The viruses naturally occur in wild water birds, but they change dynamically and highly virulent strains can occur from time to time, causing major human and animal illness and death.

Symptoms of Avian Influenza include quick illness and sudden deaths of the chickens.