A woman farmer in Zimbabwe feeding chickens. Poultry are an important factor for nutrition and economic development in the region. <br/> Photo: © FAO/Desmond Kwande
A woman farmer in Zimbabwe feeding chickens. Poultry are an important factor for nutrition and economic development in the region.
Photo: © FAO/Desmond Kwande

07.09.2017

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The recent outbreaks of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza in Southern Africa are threatening the livelihood and food security status of millions of families in the region, warns the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).

Highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) has so far been reported in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, South Africa and Zimbabwe. The first ever confirmation of outbreaks of the flu in Southern Africa would have far-reaching animal health, food and nutritional security and socio-economic impacts in the sub-region, FAO stressed in August 2017.

The outbreak of HPAI in Southern Africa comes at a time when the region is struggling to recover from the EL Niño-induced humanitarian food shortages (2015-2016 season) that were further worsened by the emergence of other pests such as the fall armyworm, which devastated crops this year.

Given that some countries in North, West and Eastern Africa had confirmed presence of avian influenza earlier this year, as well as the global increase in cases of the disease, its outbreak in Southern Africa was predictable, according to FAO. The most likely carriers of the virus are migratory birds, following their usual migratory paths through southern Africa and exposing domestic poultry to the disease.

Commercial poultry production is an important factor in the region.

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