PRETORIA, SOUTH AFRICA –Approximately 300 chickens died of avian influenza on a commercial chicken farm in Ekurhuleni, Gauteng, South Africa, the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD) in South Africa said. Authorities confirmed the presence of the H5 strain of the disease.

The affected farm was also part of an H5N8 highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) outbreak in 2017, according to the DALRRD.

Samples taken from the affected premises were sent to Onderstepoort Veterinary Research (OVR) for tests to determine whether the strain is high or low pathogenic avian influenza, as well as to determine the N type of the virus. Test results are pending, the agency said. The birds in the affected poultry house were immediately destroyed upon confirmation of the H5 strain.

“The Gauteng Veterinary Authorities placed the farm under quarantine and are busy with an investigation of the outbreak,” the agency said. “They are performing back and forward tracing to determine the extent of the outbreak and assist with safe disposal of dead chickens and disinfection of the farm.”

DALRRD noted that large wild bird die offs were reported in Stutterheim in the Eastern Cape. Samples from chickens that were collected at the end of March 2021 in two villages in Stutterheim tested negative for Newcastle disease and avian influenza, however follow-up investigations are ongoing.