A breakout of avian influenza has been confirmed on an ostrich farm in the Western Cape of South Africa, said the National Department of Agriculture (NDA) on Monday.

The ostrich farm, which is approximately 30km west of Mossel Bay in the western Cape Province, has been placed under quarantine after the culling of 60 ostriches. It was immediately reported to the government’s veterinary authorities who were quick to handle the matter.

According to a statement released by the Department of Agriculture, the virus has been characterized as an H5N2 strain and is said to have no link to the more lethal H5N1 strain that has already caused high levels of poultry mortalities in the Far East, Europe and Northern Africa.

In May 2004, contaminated ostriches had been destroyed before the contagious H5N2 strain could spread to chickens.

“South African ostrich and poultry meat remains safe for consumption”, said the NDA.. If the outbreak is contained, the country’s export levels for ostriches and poultry will not be affected.

However, the Department of Agriculture’s spokesperson said that South Africa’s trading partners shall all be notified of the outbreak and talks would proceed in order to confirm that the outbreak has been contained.