By Ebi Kesiena
Namibia has suspended imports of live poultry and poultry products from neighboring South Africa because of a severe bird flu outbreak.
The suspension was prompted by the “alarming spread” of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in South Africa, Namibia’s agricultural ministry said.
“New cases have been reported in all types of commercial chicken [production] in the provinces of Kwazulu-Natal, Western Cape, Free State, Gauteng, Limpopo, Mpumalanga and North West respectively,” it posted on Facebook.
According to agriculture ministry spokesman Jona Musheko, due to its proximity, South Africa was Namibia’s “preferred supplier” of chicken, but the country also imports poultry from Europe and South America.
More than two million chickens have reportedly died so far in the outbreak.
The Namibian authorities specified that the suspension covered: Live poultry, “Fresh frozen” poultry meat, Table eggs, Day old chicks and hatching eggs.
Bird flu does not typically infect humans. But H5N1 is increasingly infecting mammals worldwide, raising fears it could pass on more easily to people.
The virus has typically been confined to seasonal outbreaks, but since 2021 cases have emerged year-round, and across the globe, leading to what experts say is the largest outbreak ever seen. South African Poultry Association, SAPA said the number of avian flu cases in South Africa this year was higher than in any year since the first outbreaks were reported in commercial farms in 2017.