oa Agriprobe - Avian influenza in ostriches : epidemiological investigation in the Western Cape Province of South Africa

Volume 2, Issue 4
  • ISSN : 1810-9799



An H5N2 Avian Influenza (AI) virus was isolated from ostriches in the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa in July 2004. During a subsequent survey H5 AI antibodies were detected by the beta haemagglutination inhibition (HI) test in ostriches in the Western Cape Province whilst no virus could be detected. However, the sampling strategy initially embarked upon to accommodate practical constraints did not truly reflect the prevalence of the sero-reactor entities. A follow-up survey was therefore conducted during March to May 2005 to obtain an absolute representative sample. None of the 15 126 serum samples collected from birds of the 0 - 4 month age group tested positive, while 2.40% of the 14 664 samples collected from slaughter birds (5-14 months) and 3.66% of the 8 791 samples collected from breeder birds (>14 months) tested positive. Fourteen farms were visited to identify relevant risk factors and risk mitigation procedures that could be applied to minimise the spread of the disease. It was concluded that bio-security measures should be improved on ostrich farms and should specifically be aimed to minimise the contact between ostriches and wild birds.

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