What is bird flu and can you get it?

It also suspended all trade in birds and chicken products from neighbouring Zimbabwe earlier this month after it reported the outbreak.

The ban, which also affects street traders, is the department's attempt to contain the outbreak, after the highly contagious influenza strain was detected at a breeder site in Mpumalanga last week.

A day before the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) stated on its website a reported case of the deadly bird flu virus on a commercial poultry farm in Mpumalanga Province.

Zimbabwe‚ a net importer of South African chickens that are mostly sold in South African-owned Pick n Pay supermarkets and other locally owned small retailers due to their low prices‚ said the ban on frozen chicken‚ tabled eggs and hatching eggs was "indefinite" but would be guided by South Africa's Agriculture‚ Forests‚ Fisheries and Veterinary department.

Department of veterinary services director Josphat Nyika was quoted by the state-run Herald newspaper on Tuesday as saying that the ban will remain in force until South Africa clears the highly pathogenic virus.

"Many businesses will be affected by the ban".

Some 5,000 birds died of the highly contagious disease and the remainder at the 24,000-birds farm was in the process of being culled, the ministry said.

Eggs were not allowed to move off the farm.

The Department of Agriculture, Forestries and Fisheries (DAFF) is providing veterinary support including diagnostics, surveillance and control measures.

The ban will be active for an indefinite period.

"It takes approximately four days for the infected bird to show clinical signs of the disease. The documents are to be returned to the nearest veterinary office", said Modisa.

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