GABORONE (Reuters) - Zimbabwe, Namibia and Botswana on Tuesday suspended poultry imports from South Africa with immediate effect following outbreaks of highly contagious H5N8 bird flu.
South Africa has confirmed outbreaks of avian flu, which is often transmitted by wild birds, on at least two farms. South Africa and Mozambique banned poultry imports from Zimbabwe this month after a bird flu outbreak there.
Botswana, which only imports 5 percent of its poultry needs, said it would no longer buy poultry meat, processed products and feeds from South Africa.
"The restriction is a precautionary measure to avoid equal infection here as well as protect our people," agriculture minister Patrick Ralotsia told Reuters.
Zimbabwe imposed a similar ban while Namibia also halted imports from Belgium which has experience an outbreak of bird flu earlier this year.
South Africa on Monday ended the sale of live hens throughout the country in a bid to control the outbreak that was detected on the farm of a commercial broiler breeder last week.
Poultry producer Astral, which had previously confirmed that H5N8 had been detected at its breeding facilities on the outskirts of the Free State, said on Tuesday it had quarantined the affected site and culled 150,000 birds, around six percent of its breeding stock.
Reporting by Nyasha Nyaungwa and MacDonald Dzirutwe; Writing by Tanisha Heiberg; Editing by Joe Brock