Brazil has announced a six-month animal health emergency following the discovery of multiple cases of avian flu in wild birds. With seven cases reported in Espirito Santo state and another in Rio de Janeiro state, the declaration allows the government to implement necessary measures to prevent the highly contagious H5N1 virus from spreading.
As the world’s largest exporter of chicken meat, with annual sales reaching nearly $10 billion (£8 billion), Brazil’s proactive response aims to safeguard its vital poultry industry. Authorities emphasize that the cases were found far from the country’s primary production areas in the south. Nevertheless, it is worth noting that outbreaks in commercial flocks have occasionally followed the identification of avian flu in wild birds.
The detection of avian flu on a farm typically prompts the culling of a significant number of birds and can lead to trade restrictions from other countries. In a precautionary move, Brazil has declared a nationwide health emergency for the next 180 days to mitigate potential risks.
Since October 2021, the world has been grappling with the most severe bird flu outbreak in history, resulting in unprecedented casualties among wild bird populations. The disease has also affected certain mammals. Scientists are still uncertain why this outbreak is proving more severe than previous ones. The World Organisation for Animal Health (WOAH) has highlighted the “devastating impacts on animal health and welfare” caused by the outbreak.
Monitoring the further spread of the H5N1 virus is crucial as experts analyze whether it is mutating into a form capable of human-to-human transmission, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Presently, reported cases result from individuals coming into close contact with infected birds.
Brazil’s declaration of an animal health emergency underscores the country’s commitment to proactive measures to contain avian flu and protect its poultry industry. Continued vigilance and cooperation between national and international health organizations will be crucial in mitigating the risks associated with the ongoing bird flu outbreak.