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Avian Flu Outbreak Spreads to Brazil's Wild Birds, Unveiling New Global Concerns

  • Posted on May 16, 2023
  • News
Avian Flu: The avian flu season traditionally begins each October as migratory birds shed infected droppings or saliva while leaving cool areas of the Northern Hemisphere.(AP)

Avian Influenza:-

Brazil, which holds the position of the leading global exporter of chicken, has recently acknowledged the presence of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) Cases. However, these cases have been identified exclusively in wild birds, as confirmed by the Agriculture Ministry on Monday.

The Brazilian government has emphasized that the two detected instances of HPAI in wild birds should not result in a prohibition on the importation of poultry products from Brazil. This stance aligns with the guidelines outlined by the World Organization for Animal Health (WOAH).

A poultry facility in Brazil. Photo: Daniel Azevedo
A poultry facility in Brazil. Photo: Daniel Azevedo

The avian influenza virus has the potential to cause devastating losses for the poultry industry as it can wipe out entire flocks of birds. However, Brazil has been relatively fortunate so far, as it had not recorded any cases of the virus until recently. 

Despite this, the global outbreak of the virus has led to an increase in Brazil's chicken exports, which rose by 27% to $9.76 billion last year.

However, the situation has taken a turn for the worse in Brazil. The country's government has now confirmed the presence of the H5N1 subtype of avian influenza in two marine birds belonging to the Thalasseus acuflavidus species. 

These infected birds were found along the coastline of Espirito Santo, a southeastern state of Brazil. It marks the first recorded case of avian influenza in the country.

The primary regions in Brazil where poultry is predominantly produced are the southern and central-western parts of the country. However, Espirito Santo stands out as Brazil's third largest state in terms of egg production, as stated by the ABPA, a meat industry association. Although the state does not export eggs, it focuses on selling them within the domestic market.

To identify any potential instances of the disease in both wild and commercial animals within the vicinity where the confirmed cases were reported, the government plans to enhance its surveillance services, as per an undisclosed official source.

According to the Ministry of Agriculture, the recent detection of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in wild animals in Brazil does not impact the country's status as being free from HPAI. 

The CEO of BRF, the world's largest chicken exporting company, expressed during a press conference that he was not surprised by the HPAI case and assured that the company was well-prepared for any situation. 

He also reiterated the recommendations of the World Organization for Animal Health (WOAH), stating that member countries should not impose import bans based solely on the detection of HPAI in wild animals.

Gularte from BRF highlighted the company's dependence on Brazil's strong animal health services to effectively handle and prevent risks to their poultry farms. Major importers of Brazilian chicken products in April were China, Japan, South Africa, and Saudi Arabia. China has imposed bans on poultry imports from around 40 U.S. states due to bird flu outbreaks.

Bird flu spreads to new countries, threatens non-stop ‘war’ on poultry
Bird flu spreads to new countries, threatens non-stop ‘war’ on poultry

Argentina halted its poultry exports due to bird flu in February but resumed them from unaffected regions in March. Global outbreaks have led to high poultry losses, causing a Surge in egg and turkey prices.

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