Press Release: U.S. Embassy hosts workshop to improve laboratory diagnostics on bird flu in Southern Africa

The workshop was organized by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) with funding from the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA), and delivered in partnership with the World Organization for Animal Health, the Agriculture Research Council Onderstepoo

Press Release |Embassy of the United States
August 13, 2019
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

The U.S. Embassy in Pretoria hosted a training workshop aimed at preventing outbreaks of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) “bird flu” in Southern Africa.  The workshop, held from August 12 – 16 focused on laboratory diagnostics as an essential tool for combatting HPAI.

The workshop was organized by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) with funding from the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA), and delivered in partnership with the World Organization for Animal Health, the Agriculture Research Council Onderstepoort Veterinary Research (ARC-OVR), and South African animal health experts.

Animal health authorities from nearly all SADC countries participated in the training aimed at strengthening international cooperation and increasing awareness among animal health and wildlife authorities in the region.

Jeromy McKim, Southern Africa area director for APHIS, said: “Animal diseases, such as avian influenza, don’t stop at borders so it is essential that countries work together.”

“It is like a warning, especially that globally, the disease [HPAI] continues to affect countries, and therefore we should not relax. It is for this reason that USDA/OVR/OIE have once again co-organised this workshop on HPAI, this time focussing on laboratory diagnostics,” said Dr. Moetapele Letshwenyo, sub-regional representative for the World Organization for Animal Health in Southern Africa.

Bird flu outbreaks in 2017 resulted in culling and the loss of millions of rands to the South African poultry industry.  In an effort to prevent further outbreaks, APHIS offered this workshop that will draw upon American and ARC-OVR expertise gained from coping with bird flu outbreaks over the years.  Preventing the spread of infectious diseases is one of many areas of cooperation between the United States and South Africa.

For more information: Mamello Masote: USEmbassySAPress@state.gov