Due to the outbreak of Avian Influenza 'bird flu' in South Africa and to prevent the introduction of the disease into St Helena, Governor Lisa Phillips has today issued a Prohibition Notice, by virtue of section 55(1) of the Public Health Ordinance, Cap. 49.

With effect from today, Wednesday 5 July 2017, until further notice, all poultry products originating, produced or packaged in South Africa is prohibited from being imported or landed at St Helena, this includes:

All bird eggs (whether fresh for consumption or fertilized for incubation)

All chilled raw meat of all bird species

All chilled raw offal from all bird species

This does not apply to any frozen meat or offal imported or landed before 10 July 2017 as long as the packaging of such meat or offal indicates that:

It was frozen at the producer's facilities and

It has remained frozen since it left those facilities

Under section 55(2) of the Public Health Ordinance, Cap. 49, any person who contravenes the provisions of this notice commits an offence and is liable to prosecution.

The public is also reminded that live animals including birds cannot be imported without prior authorisation.

The St Helena Resilience Forum has convened and is managing the situation. The public will be kept updated.

Stakeholders, including merchants, farmers, and the RMS St Helena have been informed of this temporary ban. The Veterinary Section will continue to monitor the situation and anyone with questions or needing advice should contact the Senior Veterinary Officer, Catherine Mann, on tel: 24724 or via email: catherine.man@enrd.gov.sh

Notes to Editors

Bird flu is a highly infectious viral disease that affects most bird species and can spread rapidly. This strain of bird flu has so far not infected humans despite multiple outbreaks globally and the risk to public health from this strain is ranked low by the World Health Organisation. The virus is killed by thorough cooking of meat and eggs.

However, bird flu can have devastating consequences for chickens with significant mortality rates and marked drop in egg production. There are about 6000 farmed poultry on St Helena and these birds as well as our endemic wild birds, such as the Wirebird, need to be protected.

A number of key factors relating to the disease outbreak are unknown, including possible spread, how long the disease may have been present on the infected farms and how widely chicks from these premises have been disseminated (locally, regionally or nationally). Whilst waiting for further information, a precautionary approach towards poultry product imports from South Africa has been taken to reduce the risk to St Helena's national flock (both captive and wild). As St Helena has limited wild bird migration or temporary avian visitors, the risk of disease introduction from non-resident wild birds is at a lower risk compared to other countries.

Source: St Helena Government

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