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Over 1 MILLION chickens killed due to bird flu in Zimbabwe and South Africa

Zimbabwe and South Africa have lost over one million chickens to Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI), it has been learnt.
The disease hit the two countries recently, threatening the livelihood and food security status of millions of families.
The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) confirmed the development in a statement after a SADC meeting on avian influenza in South Africa.
FAO said if not tackled quickly, the HPAI outbreak would impede trade opportunities and reverse the gains made in enhancing food and nutrition security.
SADC representative, Mr Bentry Chaura, said South Africa had so far culled over 800 000 birds.
Zimbabwe culled around 215 000 birds.
“This is likely to have a knock on effect on the availability of table eggs and poultry meat for consumers in the region. South Africa alone is destroying one million eggs a day from the affected farms. Small-scale producers are also expected to face shortages of day old chicks in the market,” he said.
Mr Chaura said the bird flu had come at a time when the region was struggling to recover from the El Niño-induced food shortages (2015-2016 season) further worsened by the emergence of other pests such as the fall armyworm which devastated crops this year.
“We are all witnesses of what animal diseases and pests, particularly transboundary animal diseases, can do to worsen the vulnerability of rural-based communities.
“Those do not only affect lives in the community, but also normally have a lasting impact on local, regional and international trade,” he said.
In Southern Africa, the flu has so far been reported in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, South Africa and Zimbabwe.
In South Africa and Zimbabwe, the disease has mainly been identified on large commercial farms, where systems to monitor outbreaks are readily in place compared to smallholder and backyard producers.
The spectre of bird flu outbreaks has been looming across the region since the beginning of the year when Uganda reported an outbreak (January 2017) prompting SADC member states to develop the capacity for surveillance, detection, prevention, and rapid response to HPAI.
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Hundreds of dead birds line a road in Idaho, USA

The word that one state wildlife biologist uses is “disturbing.”
He’s referring to the possibly couple of hundred bird carcasses that line the gravel along both sides of South Cole Road, near CS Beef Packers south of Boise.
The birds are ring-billed gulls and California gulls, according to Bill Bosworth, a wildlife biologist with Idaho Fish & Game.
Thousands of gulls nest in a settling pond on private property southwest of the beef packing plant. The large number of bird deaths in recent years has concerned passersby and led some to wonder if they’re being poisoned by something in that pond or others nearby.
Bosworth said Fish & Game has been investigating, and they have determined two causes for the bird deaths.
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Dozens of sea birds, hundreds of fish, plus turtles found dead on a beach in Queensland, Australia

DEAD birds, turtles and mullet have become a common occurrence at Bongaree’s Airforce Park in recent weeks.
Don Early has been cleaning the beachfront for the past five years in ode to his late veteran grandfather and says he’s encountered 14 dead cormorants washed ashore in the past two weeks.
“Something is wrong here,” he said.
“It’s only a little stretch of beach and I usually find the odd dead bird, but to find 14 in such a short period is strange.
“There’s more up further; I’ve found dead turtles and hundreds of dead mullet. And these birds are all the same species.”
Don said he’s attempted to call Moreton Bay Regional Council and the Department of Parks and Wildlife up to “10 times”, but to no avail.
A Parks spokeswoman told The Bribie Weekly that the birds were found on council land, so the matter was referred to council.
But a council spokesman said it was unable to find sign of dead wildlife along the beachfront.
“A council officer attended the site following reports of dead wildlife and was unable to locate any dead wildlife,” he said.
“Park maintenance crews have also attended the site and have not encountered any dead wildlife.
“The Department of Environment and Heritage Protection is responsible for the investigation of wildlife deaths and any further questions are best directed to the department.”
The Bribie Weekly contacted Bribie Island marine biologist Ben Diggles, but he said he hadn’t heard of anything relating to these deaths.
Don said he’d given up on trying to bring attention to the birds.
“The birds are still down there and there’s more up near the boat ramp,” he said.
“(But) I’ve given up. I can’t go any further with this.
“I’ve wasted too much money in calls.”
The Department of Environment and Heritage was unable to meet The Bribie Weekly’s deadline for further comment on the matter.
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150,000 birds killed due to bird flu in South Africa

Zimbabwe, Namibia and Botswana on Tuesday suspended poultry imports from South Africa with immediate effect following outbreaks of highly contagious H5N8 bird flu.
South Africa has confirmed outbreaks of avian flu, which is often transmitted by wild birds, on at least two farms. South Africa and Mozambique banned poultry imports from Zimbabwe this month after a bird flu outbreak there.
Botswana, which only imports 5 percent of its poultry needs, said it would no longer buy poultry meat, processed products and feeds from South Africa.
“The restriction is a precautionary measure to avoid equal infection here as well as protect our people,” agriculture minister Patrick Ralotsia told Reuters.
Zimbabwe imposed a similar ban while Namibia also halted imports from Belgium which has experience an outbreak of bird flu earlier this year.
South Africa on Monday ended the sale of live hens throughout the country in a bid to control the outbreak that was detected on the farm of a commercial broiler breeder last week.
Poultry producer Astral, which had previously confirmed that H5N8 had been detected at its breeding facilities on the outskirts of the Free State, said on Tuesday it had quarantined the affected site and culled 150,000 birds, around six percent of its breeding stock.
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Dozens of birds are being found dead in Beddington Park’s lake, Wallington, UK

Concerned residents have reported seeing dozens of dead birds, including ducks and geese, being pulled from a lake at their local park.
The witnesses have told how they fear they may have died as a result of the water in the lake at Beddington Park being polluted.
An unusual foam and brown scum have been pictured in the lake.
Elizabeth Kane, from Forget Me Not Wildlife Rescue, explained that she has been called several times to the park, off Church Road, in Wallington, in the last few weeks to reports of birds in distress.
She added: “It could be anything [causing the deaths], which is why I’ve called on the council and the Environment Agency to get the water tested.”
Mark Perry, 46, who visits the park regularly, said the damage being done to wildlife in the park is “horrific” and “tragic”.
He said: “I started seeing some of the birds looking a little poorly and it’s just snowballed from there.
“Although we can’t say for certain what’s going on without testing the water, we are seeing all of the tell-tale signs of botulism, which is a terrible disease for wildfowl to get.
“It can cause paralysis, so the birds can just be swimming along fine one minute and the next they can’t move so they’re drowning, which is just horrific.
“It’s tragic to watch the wildfowl suffer like that.
“The park is just this phenomenal little space but it can be so much better when it’s properly looked after – we have so many kinds of wildlife here, including kingfishers and fish, and people do let their dogs go in that lake too.”
While the cause of the water contamination is not yet clear, Mr Perry said he had seen a lot of plant cuttings “rotting” at the end of the lake closest to the iron and stone bridges.
“It’s hard to pinpoint a cause but when foliage is left in the lake rotting that can cause diseases to spread, or if a dead bird is not removed from the water, that can cause contamination too,” he added.
A spokeswoman for the Swan Sanctuary said botulism is a common problem in shallow lakes and ponds during the summer months.
She said: “When it gets hotter and the water level drops in lakes which are already not very deep, bacteria breeds as the water heats up. We have received a fair few calls lately to ponds and lakes across London because this is sadly a common natural phenomenon.
“As always, our recommendation is that the local authority digs the lake deeper.”
A spokesman for Sutton Council said: “At this stage the environmental team are investigating and will take appropriate action once they have a better understanding of the possible cause.”
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100 dead gannets have washed up the past couple of months in Massachusetts, USA

Northern gannets on Bonaventure Island in Quebec.
Dead gannets washing up on the shore of southern Maine and Massachusetts have raised suspicions that a toxic algal bloom could be to blame.
Chris Dwyer, a wildlife biologist with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, said Friday that approximately 100 northern gannets have been found dead in the region over the past couple of months, most of them on Cape Cod.
“It is unusual for gannets to be washing up in those numbers,” Dwyer said.
He added he expects that some dead gannets have not been found or reported, but “not a lot more” because their relatively large size and the infrequency of the birds on land make them stand out. One, he said, was found on a golf course.
According to WGME, three more northern gannets have been found dead in Maine, one of them on Parsons Beach in Kennebunk.
An article by the Cape Cod Times quotes Massachusetts wildlife rehabilitation officials as saying that the condition of the seabirds suggests that some sort of-quick-working toxin may be to blame. Toxins produced by ocean algal blooms have been known to kill marine mammals that have consumed affected fish, the paper reported. Necropsies on the dead birds so far have proven inconclusive, the paper added.
Scientists have said that warming ocean temperatures and pollution have contributed to harmful algal blooms that have been reported in recent years in Florida, on the West Coast and, to a lesser extent, in Maine. Scientists have said global climate change is causing the Gulf of Maine to warm up faster than 99 percent of the world’s oceans.
Dwyer said that there have been reports of an algal bloom off of Cape Cod, but that scientists haven’t confirmed that the birds died from biotoxin poisoning. He said test results from necropsies on the birds, many of which have been found on beaches at Cape Cod National Seashore, aren’t expected back for another two to three weeks.
According to the conservation group National Audubon Society, gannets are primarily a pelagic species, staying out to sea when not raising their young or in poor health. The birds’ population declined sharply in the 1800s as humans hunted them and collected their eggs, especially along Canada’s eastern coast, but protections implemented since then have helped the species recover.
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190,000 birds killed due to bird flu in South Korea

South Korea has imposed a temporary nationwide ban on poultry transportation as it struggles to contain an outbreak of the highly pathogenic H5N8 virus, which has led to the slaughter of some 190,000 birds.
The first case in this outbreak of the virus was confirmed in the southern island of Jeju on June 2, and four more cases have been confirmed in different locations across the country.
On Tuesday, Seoul raised the national bird flu alert to its highest level, as it counted more than 180,000 chickens, ducks and other birds be culled, the agriculture ministry said.
“We hope that the outbreak will be contained soon with the bird flu alert raised to the top ‘grave’ level,” a ministry official told AFP.
“Grave” is the final step on the four-level alert system, and means officials can ban any movements of vehicles carrying birds, shut poultry stores or animal slaughterhouses, vaccinate poultry, and disinfect any vehicles on the road.
Under the 24-hour poultry transport ban that took effect Wednesday, all birds—and bird farmers—were banned from travelling, with farms subjected to disinfection.
The worst outbreak of another strain—H5N6, the most highly contagious strain of avian flu ever to hit the South—was recorded late last year when a record 30 million birds were slaughtered, which sent egg prices soaring.
The World Health Organization warned earlier this year that the strain has caused “severe infection” in humans.
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140,000 birds killed due to bird flu in Zimbabwe

One of Zimbabwe’s biggest poultry producers, Irvine’s Private Limited, has culled 140,000 birds following an outbreak of avian influenza at its premises which killed 7,000 others, as the government quarantined the affected site to prevent the spread of the virus.
A press statement published by the company Tuesday said that the company had identified and contained a form of avian flu on an isolated site just outside Harare.
“Irvine’s, together with the Zimbabwe Veterinary Department, have responded by placing the affected site under quarantine and the entire flock that was affected has been culled and disposed of in accordance with the relevant veterinary regulations,” the company said.
Avian flu is a virus that occurs naturally among wild aquatic birds and affects domestic poultry and other birds and animals.
Principal director in the Department of Livestock and Veterinary Services Unesu Obatolu-Ushewokunze told state media that the outbreak involved the serotype H5 N8 of the avian flu virus which had been spreading around the world since 2010 but had not shown any risk to humans.
“All trade partners, veterinary authorities of neighboring countries and the World Organization for Animal Health have been notified as necessary,” she said.
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12,000 birds dead due to bird flu in Ituri, Congo

The Democratic Republic of Congo has reported three outbreaks of highly pathogenic H5 bird flu among poultry in the northeastern province of Ituri, the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) said on Wednesday.
The virus was detected among ducks and hens in three villages near the border with Uganda, the Paris-based OIE said, citing a report from the Congolese agriculture ministry.
The disease caused the death of more than 12,000 birds, with mortality higher in ducks than in hens, according to the report.
The H5N8 strain of bird flu has been present in Uganda and the heavy trade of poultry animals and products across the border would have to be considered, the report said.
H5N8 bird flu has been found in Europe, the Middle East and Africa since late last year, propagated by wild birds, and has led to massive preventive culling of poultry in countries such as France.
The source of the outbreaks in Congo was not yet known and the exact strain of H5 bird flu not indicated.
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