A new case of avian influenza was reported this week (April 2013) in South Africa. To put this outbreak into context it maybe helpful to provide a reminder of the situation over the past couple of years as it has had a major impact on all working to build their business based on ostrich, no matter where they are positioned in the supply/value chain.
Avian Influenza resulted in the South African Ostrich Industry closing their borders to exports of their meat, eggs, chicks and live birds in April 2011, when H5N2 was first identified as officially reported to the OIE (World Organisation for Animal Health) here. Over the months since then, their veterinary services have filed 13 follow up reports with the last filed in October 2012.
In February 2012 an intitial report for an outbreak of H7N1 was filed - that report is available here with no follow up reports yet filed. This is the strain reported in the media this week as found on one farm. To date the follow up report relating to this new outbreak is not yet filed with the OIE as it is early days.
The May 2012 newsletter reported on how the South African ostrich industry were overcoming the export ban on raw meat to Europe by developing heat treated meat as the ban relates to raw meat only. The press reports state that provided the meat is pre-cooked for 3 seconds at 70 degrees centigrade, it is stated as acceptable for export. They report that whilst the price is lower than raw meat, the products ensure uninterrupted exports.
The continuation of Avian Influenza in their flock however, does delay the ability for export of eggs, chicks and breeder birds thus opening up opportunities for all with ostrich outside South Africa.