MEDIA STATEMENT
Wild Bird Mortalities in the Eastern Cape

13 April 2021

Reports of dying wild birds, mostly doves, in Buffalo City Municipality were received from Mr. Neville Ganes of 𝗡𝗲𝘃𝗶𝗹𝗹𝗲'𝘀 𝗦𝗻𝗮𝗸𝗲 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝗥𝗲𝗽𝘁𝗶𝗹𝗲 𝗥𝗲𝘀𝗰𝘂𝗲, who have been collecting dead birds and submitting these to SPCA in Qonce.

As from the end of March 2021, these bird mortalities were experienced in Buffalo City Municipality mainly in Qonce. Furthermore, reports of wild birds dying were received from Mr. Mark Marshall of 𝗦𝗮𝗻𝗱𝘂𝗹𝗮 𝗖𝗼𝗻𝘀𝗲𝗿𝘃𝗮𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻 in Gqebera.

State Veterinarians did an urgent full scale tracing ,collecting, conducting post mortem exercise to identify the causative agent of wild birds mortalities. These samples were immediately sent to the Onderstepoort Veterinary Research (OVR) Laboratory for analysis. The initial tests were negative for West Nile Virus, Avian Influenza (AI) and Newcastle Disease (NCD). In the meantime, State Veterinary Officials continued with the tracing and sampling of birds for testing.

Samples that were sent to OVR on 07 April 2021 indicate that the birds are positive for

𝗔𝘃𝗶𝗮𝗻 𝗣𝗮𝗿𝗮𝗺𝘆𝘅𝗼𝘃𝗶𝗿𝘂𝘀 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝗡𝗲𝘄𝗰𝗮𝘀𝘁𝗹𝗲 𝗱𝗶𝘀𝗲𝗮𝘀𝗲 𝘃𝗶𝗿𝘂𝘀𝗲𝘀.The mortalities of the wild birds is therefore attributed to these viruses. Veterinarians, specializing in birds have found a pattern whereby wild doves seem to be highly susceptible to paramyxovirus in cycles of four years. The cause of the deaths is positively diagnosed as the above viruses.

𝗔𝘃𝗶𝗮𝗻 𝗣𝗮𝗿𝗮𝗺𝘆𝘅𝗼𝘃𝗶𝗿𝘂𝘀 is a viral infection that can spread rapidly, causing high rates of pigeon illness and death and is common in many countries. It is capable of affecting other avian species including poultry but so far, there has not been any positive detection of natural infection of domestic fouls including major broiler farms. Human infection with this virus is rare and may only occur in people in close contact with infected birds, causing flu- like symptoms. Some of the signs of this virus in birds include lethargy, vomiting or regurgitation, green diarrhoea, twisting of the neck, circling, head flicking, laboured breathing, runny eyes and beak. Sick birds can die within three (03) days. Infected birds shed the virus in their faeces and other discharges, contaminating the environment including water, feed, equipment and human clothing. Confirmation of the disease requires laboratory analysis. There is no specific treatment.

In mitigating spread of the disease, bird keepers are advised to implement biosecurity measures and vaccination for their birds.

𝗕𝗶𝗼𝘀𝗲𝗰𝘂𝗿𝗶𝘁𝘆 𝗺𝗲𝗮𝘀𝘂𝗿𝗲𝘀 𝗶𝗻𝗰𝗹𝘂𝗱𝗲:

- Cleaning and disinfecting footwear, washing hands and clothes after visiting other birds.

- Keeping lofts and equipment clean.

- Disinfecting equipment used to house, transport, feed and water other birds.

- Preventing wild birds, feral pigeons, and their droppings from having contact with

your pigeons or contaminating their feed or water.

- Quarantine for at least two weeks any new birds or birds returning from a show or race.

- Limiting any unnecessary visitors to your pigeon’s loft.

𝗡𝗲𝘄𝗰𝗮𝘀𝘁𝗹𝗲 𝗱𝗶𝘀𝗲𝗮𝘀𝗲 is a viral infection of chickens (poultry) and other birds . It is a worldwide problem that causes acute respiratory disease with nervous signs

There are registered Newcastle disease vaccines for poultry that (domestic poultry) owners are advised to use.

Contact between wild birds and domestic poultry must be prevented at all costs.

𝗜𝘀𝘀𝘂𝗲𝗱 𝗯𝘆 𝗘𝗮𝘀𝘁𝗲𝗿𝗻 𝗖𝗮𝗽𝗲 𝗗𝗲𝗽𝗮𝗿𝘁𝗺𝗲𝗻𝘁 𝗼𝗳 𝗥𝘂𝗿𝗮𝗹 𝗗𝗲𝘃𝗲𝗹𝗼𝗽𝗺𝗲𝗻𝘁 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝗔𝗴𝗿𝗮𝗿𝗶𝗮𝗻 𝗥𝗲𝗳𝗼𝗿𝗺.”

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