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South Africa Culls Millions of Chickens in an Effort to Contain Chicken flu Outbreaks

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South Africa has slaughtered over 7.5 million chickens in an effort to contain dozens of outbreaks of two distinct strains of avian influenza, which threaten to cause a shortage of eggs and poultry for customers.

In at least 60 separate outbreaks across the country, at least 205,000 chickens have died from bird flu, with more than half of those outbreaks occurring in Gauteng province, which includes the country’s largest metropolis, Johannesburg, and the capital, Pretoria.

Some Johannesburg grocery stores were restricting the number of eggs people could buy this week, and the government acknowledged there were “supply constraints.”

The government announced that around 2.5 million meat-bred chickens had been culled.  Another 5 million egg-laying chickens were slaughtered, according to the South African Poultry Association. A statement from South African Poultry Association general manager Izaak Breitenbach, the 7.5 million chickens represented around 20-30% of South Africa’s total chicken stock.

The government is seeking to expedite new import licenses for companies bringing in eggs from other countries “to ensure sufficient supplies for consumers,” Agriculture Minister Thoko Didiza said. Her ministry is also exploring a vaccination program to combat avian flu outbreaks, and the number of farms with cases is growing.

South African chicken meat and eggs have been banned in Namibia.

The epidemics are wreaking havoc on an industry that is already reeling from a power outage. Breitenbach stated that South Africa has experienced three significant chicken flu outbreaks in recent years, with the most recent being “by far the worst,” costing the industry at least $25 million. 

Also Read: More Countries Ban South African Flights As New Variant Emerges

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