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