An outbreak of a less virulent strain of avian Influenza in the Western Cape province of South Africa, has resulted in the culling of 8,000 ostriches, the Department of Agriculture reported on Wednesday.

A further investigation has been performed in the surrounding areas and has shown that the H5N2 outbreak was under control and had not spread to other ostriches.

The routine, ongoing surveillance and blood testing has unfortunately led to the detection of a small number of farms in other areas of the Western and Eastern Cape Provinces, where it is suspected that ostriches may have been exposed to the virus, the department said.

“The current outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) is a subtype H5N2, not H5N1. Surveillance conducted on human health during that outbreak suggested there was no evidence of any severe illness in humans despite very close contact with infected ostriches,” Gillian de Jong, a South African microbiologist from the National Institute for Communicable Diseases said.

She added that to date, there has been no evidence of severe infection in humans from this subtype H5N2.

A similar outbreak in the Eastern and Western Cape provinces occurred in 2004 and 2005 where more than 26,400 birds were culled in 37 farms. Earlier this month, another breakout occurred in the same province where 60 ostriches were culled and placed under quarantine.

Bans have been implemented by the European Union on the imports of ostriches and their meat from these two provinces. The South African Agricultural department has also banned exports from the areas.

The department said that the commercially available ostrich and poultry products remain safe for human consumption.