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The unexplained deaths of ostriches on three farms in the Eastern Cape province of South Africa have led the Minister of Agriculture for the Western Cape to declare a suspected outbreak of bird flu and halt all ostrich movements between the two provinces.

Samples from the affected farms are being analysed. They have provisionally been diagnosed with the same strain of highly contagious avian influenza that caused major ostrich mortalities in South Africa earlier this year.

Authorities in the Western Cape are concerned that a major new outbreak could have serious repercussions on the ostrich farming industry, including a possible European ban on imports, and are taking measures to avoid contamination.

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