The engagement between PDMA and the government is working well. The PDMA in collaboration DAFF Veterinary Public Health (VPH) ran a successful pilot study of egg sampling, residue and microbial testing as a first step towards the development of a national residue and monitoring programme for eggs. A total of 34 commercial and 5 small-scale layer farms were included in this preliminary sampling around Gauteng.

Furthermore, there is an on-going engagement between the PDMA and VPH in developing a national monitoring programme for testing of residues and microbial in eggs. The next phase will be to determine the basic guidelines on routine sampling of residues and microbial agents, and based on the outcome of the results, an application to the rest of the country will be made. Also, the VPH is considering the possibility of inclusion of National Department of Health (DoH) to participate in the engagements and facilitate One Health approach. Communication has been dispatched in this respect and a response is awaited from the DoH. The long term objective of the programme will be to enable export of products irrespective of the production size and endorsement from DAFF following standardized testing and monitoring programmes while benefiting human health at the same time.

We are on track to promote awareness on multi-agency collaborations, and interaction between government, academia and the industry on the regulation and control of veterinary antimicrobial agents and recommend best practices on the management of antimicrobial use, stewardship and resistance.

Training of State Vet Poultry Experts

A total of 51 State Vets have gone through targeted in-service professional training since 2013 to date. Furthermore, 14-16 vets have been scheduled for training in 2016. The 2016 course will run for over a week each in January and February equal numbers of state veterinarians (7-8) attending for each week. A follow-up contact session for 2016 for all state vets who have gone through training is being considered and will be implemented in due course.  

Developing a searchable registered products database

The information on registered products is available on the PDMA website. There has been a great progress on submission of package inserts from various companies since the notification sign was uploaded on the landing page of PDMA website. However, to date, not all companies have submitted their products’ inserts, but these are being followed up and these will be added as they come in. The web address is available and open to the public at: www.poultrydiseases.co.za.

Technical Support of Small-Scale and Backyard Farmers

The PDMA is working on a proposed plan to visit the 9 provinces with state vets who have gone through training and provide the much needed technical supports. This will be the first step in creating an interface and added value relationships between the state vets and farmers. This programme will ultimately achieve the goal of bridging the gaps between the two important role players in view of public health safety concerns of chickens sold in informal and sub-formal market. In addition, the programme will aim to improve the knowledge, attitudes and perceptions (KAP) on food safety of producers in this sector. An appeal will be made to the provincial structures to assist in identifying the smallholder farms that operate in this sector.

Improved Communication

The PDMA updates and informs the public regularly through the website, the Bulletin, postings on important dates of training, poultry diseases and disease acts & protocols. Information on the state vet’s telephone contacts are also made available and disease study cases of the last contact session held in October 2013 and other important information is posted on the website.

NAI Surveillance Monitoring Programme

A seminar on risk analysis and surveillance was held in February 2015. Private and state vets were invited to discuss the current status of disease surveillance and the risk posed by transboundary animal diseases. It was concluded that there is a need for an established and routine surveillance system to be in place. The PDMA continues its attempts to establish a system for poultry disease reporting that are diagnosed throughout the country. It should be understood that an active and reliable poultry disease surveillance system is a priority to enable a better understanding of the country’s disease situation and be able to do proper monitoring and control. We have continued to approach industry’s role players to provide us with previous and current confidential data on diagnosed cases for purposes of planning. In the same vein, we are appealing to Directorate of Animal Health (DAH) in DAFF to regulate this activity and make it compulsory for all industry players, laboratories, farms, abattoirs and necessary partners to report, and implement adequate measures of punishment to defaulters. This will get the industry into compulsory reporting whatever the situation is on a case by case basis. 

Development of the Testing and Monitoring Programmes for meat

Last year an abattoir project was conducted at three high throughput abattoirs with the hope of developing a testing and monitoring programme. The project has since stopped with some suggestions that the revised programme should include the inclusion of low throughput abattoirs and that certain body portions of retailed chickens such as neck skin should be sampled. A modified protocol and SOP have been developed and as soon as we receive approval, we will continue with the project. Approximately, three high and low throughput abattoirs each will be identified.

Disease updates

Salmonella

There has been a confirmed outbreak of Salmonella Gallinarum in pullets in the Western Cape Province. There were also three cases of Salmonella Enteritisdis confirmed during the egg project. A research and surveillance programme on Salmonella is in the pipeline to track it, because Salmonella species is considered to be frequent contaminants of chickens and have caused several foodborne outbreaks in humans. Discussions are still being held in this regard towards finalising the Salmonella movement control protocol with DAH-DAFF. We believed that this protocol will be treated with despatch and some sense of urgency.  

HAPPY HOLIDAYS……Until next year

Forging ahead with PDMA

It is only the beginning of 2015, and already at the Poultry Disease Management Agency, we have been hard at work following up on the projects from 2014 and starting new ones 2015. This is exciting for us since we will be able to provide you with the results from the work we initiated. Here follows an update on some of the projects.

Training of State Vets

The first group of 7 State Vets has already completed their training at Onderstepoort. As usual, they found the training to be beneficial and the feedback from them is that the knowledge will assist them when dealing with their day-to-day poultry matters. Another group of 7 will be going through training in February, taking the total number of vets trained to 54. We are looking at a specific programme for the newly employed state vets in the provinces. We would like to appeal to you to feedback to us whether your experiences when dealing with the State Vets in your areas have improved since we started with training. We also encourage you to consult the PDMA website for the list of all State Vets who have gone through the training programme, should you still encounter problems when dealing with the State Vet in your areas.

Poultry Vets Contact Session

In order to ensure that the trained State Vets continue to access more information on poultry, we organise the contact sessions between private and state vets. These sessions are also instrumental in getting the private and state vets to interact as colleagues, thereby making their future dealings with each other much easier.

A workshop on Surveillance and Risk Analysis is planned for 16 February 2015 to serve this purpose. The topics for discussion will be surveillance, outbreak investigations, epidemiological surveys, DAFF surveillance programmes, on-farm surveillance, and as introduction to risk analysis. A total of 45 veterinarians have confirmed their attendance.  On the 17 February 2015 a session will be held on new local development on Mycoplasma and also to establish and antimicrobial resistance working group in light of the outcomes of the Antimicrobial Resistance Summit that was hosted by the Department of Health in October 2014. Future plans for these two groups will be communicated in due course.

Microbial and Residue Monitoring Programmes

Significant progress has been made in this area. The testing of the broiler sampling protocol at 3 abattoirs has been completed. The data is being analysed and will be instrumental in drafting the minimum requirements for sampling of meat products of various production facilities. The DAFF VPH will be adopting this sampling and testing protocols for their own surveys. A study is planned for sampling of eggs at both formal commercial and informal commercial sectors. This study will aid in setting the national baseline for bacteria and antibiotics as well as the antibiotic resistance in eggs. The baseline will be used to determine the sampling protocol for eggs and the bacteria that need attention. This will assist with the DAFF National Monitoring programme for eggs. The study will be conducted in Gauteng to reduce the cost. The DAFF will be co-funding some of the tests, particularly the residues and the antimicrobial resistance tests.

Disease Reporting and mapping

This is an area of focus for the PDMA for 2015. In light of the current Avian Influenza outbreaks on almost all the continents, it is crucial for the industry to start taking disease reporting and monitoring seriously. There is no doubt that an outbreak for Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza will be devastating to the industry. However, what will be even more devastating are delays in the detection of the virus and therefore the response to possible outbreak. The DAFF has placed a ban on poultry imports from the following countries: Netherlands, Germany, United Kingdom, Canada and United States of America. The PDMA will be working with the laboratories to start monitoring and mapping these diseases to be able to pick up any spikes in disease incidences and also to be able to alert the producers of possible risks in your areas. We really need your cooperation in this regard if we are to act swiftly in the unfortunate event that an outbreak hits the country. Not to be forgotten are the implications for exports, especially to those companies that export even to neighbouring countries. If an outbreak occurs in chickens, then the country can forget about any exports to other continents for a long while.

The ostrich case should be a good indicator of what the consequences are likely to be. We urge you please to be vigilant and investigate any unexplained high mortalities on farm. Also familiarise yourselves with your local State Vet office and how one would be required to interact with them should an outbreak occur.

Research Chair in Risk Analysis

As reported previously, funding has been secured to establish a Research Chair in SPS Risk Analysis. The DAFF and NRF have agreed to fund the basic amount for the Chair. The industries will be expected to provide funding for the ongoing projects to keep the chair going and also to fund students who will be trained under the Chair to build the national risk capabilities. It is a great opportunity for us as an industry to carry out work that has already been envisaged but could not be done due to high cost implication, such as work on imports, endemic diseases, zoonotic diseases, to name but a few.

By Dr Charlotte Nkuna