Brazil has confirmed that it has detected cases of the highly pathogenic avian influenza virus H5N1 (bird flu) for the first time in the country.
The country’s Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock (MAPA) said that the virus was detected in three wild seabirds on the coast of Espírito Santo in the southeast of the country.
The country’s veterinary service began an investigation into the suspected cases last Wednesday (May 10), after concerns were raised by the Institute for Research and Rehabilitation of Marine Animals of Cariacica.
Samples were collected and sent to the Federal Laboratory for Agricultural Defense of Sao Paulo, a reference unit of the World Organisation for Animal Health (WHOA), which confirmed the H5N1 subtype.
Brazil is the world’s main exporter of chicken and is second only to the US in terms of overall production.
According to the Brazilian Association of Animal Protein (ABPA), Brazilian chicken meat exports reached a record 4.8 million tonnes in 2022.
The country’s ministry of agriculture said that the notification of the virus in wild birds does not affect the status of Brazil as “a country free of HPAI (highly pathogenic avian influenza)”.
It added that other WHOA member countries “must not impose prohibitions on the international trade of Brazilian poultry products”.
Depending on the evolution of the investigation, new sanitary measures may be adopted by the ministry of agriculture and by state agricultural health agencies to prevent the spread of the virus and protect the national poultry industry.
The Brazilian government will also intensify its communications with poultry keepers about the importance of biosecurity measures and the immediate notification of suspected cases of the disease.
The Minister of Agriculture and Livestock, Carlos Fávaro, said that there will be increased vigilance over the bird flu pandemic among the country’s private sector and the entire official veterinary service.