The outbreak of Avian Influenza was discovered at a chicken layer farm in Ha Penapena on the outskirts of Maseru earlier last month.
The acting Minister of Agriculture Likopo Mahase announced the decision to ban both imports and exports of chicken products in Parliament on Tuesday.
He warned the public to be aware that the disease is transmittable from chickens to human beings.
“We have to ensure that poultry products like chicks, eggs and chickens do not go out or come into the country due to the outbreak,” Mr Mahase also said.
He further warned the public to be vigilant and report any deaths of domestic poultry and wild birds to the ministry.
The Principal Veterinary Doctor in the ministry Dr Relebohile Mahloane said they received a report on May 29 that out of the 500 layers kept at the Ha Penapena poultry farm, 300 of them had died.
This prompted the ministry to kick-start investigations to establish the cause of death.
Dr Mahloane said after a team of vets visited the affected farm, they collected samples of dead and live chickens for laboratory tests.
“Some of the symptoms we saw on the chickens included difficulty in breathing and change of colour of their combs,” he said, adding that the combs changed from red to purple.
Some of the chickens, he said had a lot of mucus coming out of their nostrils.
The tests, he said confirmed an outbreak of H5 Avian Influenza on the farm.
Dr Mahloane said the farmer had imported the chickens from Free State, South Africa where he claimed to have spent R350 000 to purchase them.
In principle, he said the ministry could advise the farmer to cull the remaining chickens, in order to stop the spread of the virus.
“But we do not have a compensation policy for the poor farmer, so we cannot ask him to get rid of his chickens,” he also said.
Dr Mahloane echoed Mr Mahase’s sentiments that if people consume the infected chickens, they are likely to get infected as well, adding that they could even end up dead.
“Our investigations show that the disease has been imported from South Africa where the chickens were bought.”
It is further believed that the disease came from Europe before it landed in South Africa.