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Avian Influenza is a highly contagious viral disease that affects several species of food-producing poultry (chicken, turkey, quail, etc.), as well as pet and wild birds. In some cases, mammals, including humans, can contract Avian Influenza.
There are several strains of the Avian Influenza virus, which can be generally classified into two categories according to the severity of the disease severity in birds:
- the low pathogenicity virus (LPAI), which generally causes light disease is usually unnoticed or does not present symptoms; and
- the Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) virus, which causes severe clinical signs and possible high mortality rates of birds.
Avian Influenza has caught the attention of the international community over time due to outbreaks in birds, which had a serious impact on people’s livelihoods and on international trade in many countries. Click and see the map of the disease outbreaks in the worldwide.
Most avian influenza viruses do not infect humans; however, some viruses such as the H5N1 and H7N9, are known for causing severe human infections.
The highly pathogenic H5N1 subtype was diagnosed for the first time in Hong Kong in 1997. The virus reappeared in 2003 and 2004 and spread from Asia to Europe and Africa, causing hundreds of cases and deaths in humans, and the destruction of hundreds of millions of birds. This Asian form of the H5N1 virus has been a reason for concern for scientists and is kept under a close watch because of its pandemic potential, in the event that a mutation enables human-to-human transmission.
Avian Influenza outbreaks are currently a public health issue in the world due to the circulation of different strains (H5N1, H5N2, H5N6, H5N8, H7N8, H7N9, etc.). The OIE therefore maintains the priority objectives of promoting transparency and understanding animal health in the world in order to promote public health and to guarantee safety in the world trade of animals and animal products. For more information, please click here and access the OIE website.
Contact with wild birds is therefore one of the major drivers behind outbreaks of the disease in domestic birds. Other forms of the introduction and spread of the virus within Brazil than through migrating birds must be taken into consideration: International transportation of breeding birds and pet birds, the breeding of multiple species at a single establishment, and the trade in birds' genetic material, products and byproducts. Tourists from areas where the virus is active may be mechanical vectors through their footwear and garments.
Travelers to areas affected by the disease are advised to avoid visiting poultry establishments when returning to Brazil for at least two weeks.
Did you know that Brazil is the only major producing country that has never reported Avian Influenza in its territory?
Only allow authorized people to enter the facilities. Simple contact with contaminated clothing may contaminate the flock. Do not visit other farms.
Wash and disinfect the tires, chassis and conveyor belts of all vehicles. Avoid borrowing or lending equipment. If you have come into contact with other birds or their owners, wash your vehicle and equipment before coming back to your farm.
Always wear clean shoes and clothes when entering a farm and disinfect them frequently during work. When handling poultry and poultry products, use PPEs such as masks and gloves, and wash your hands with soap and water after touching them.
Avoid contact with other species of birds such as ducks, garganeys, geese, turkeys, wild birds, and other animal species such as cats and dogs.
Do not use water from uncovered rivers or sources. Use treated water as drinking water for the poultry and for spraying.
If there are signs of nerve diseases or respiratory diseases, or the sudden death of a large number of birds in a short period of time, ask and notify a Veterinarian.
It is of the utmost importance that the Official Veterinary Service be rapidly notified of the appearance of clinical signs suggestive of Avian Influenza in any poultry establishment if the infectious agent is to be contained and the disease eradicated.
Notification should preferably be through direct communication with the official veterinary service, SVO, as follows: the veterinarian, owner, producer and others involved with poultry production should call the SVO; or the local health authorities working in poultry slaughterhouses, having identified suggestive signs or lesions found in ante- and post-mortem inspections, should contact SVO.
Suspected cases may always be communicated: to the local, regional or central offices of State Veterinary Services (SVEs), to the Federal Superintendency of Agriculture, Livestock and Food Supply (SFA), or directly to MAPA, using the hotline 0800 704 1995, a communication channel that is free of charge to the population at large.
The economic losses resulting from an outbreak of avian influenza vary according to the strain of virus, the species of infected bird, the number of establishments affected, the control methods used, and the speed with which control and eradication steps are carried out. These losses have to do with the culling of the birds, the costs of quarantine and surveillance, the losses due to high rates of mortality and morbidity, and the loss of international markets.
The Coordination Service for Poultry Health of the Ministry of Agriculture’s Animal Health Department has produced this manual of procedures for addressing suspected cases, and steps for containing an outbreak of Avian Influenza and Newcastle disease, which is a basic reference document for Federal Superintendences of Agriculture, Livestock and Food Supply (SFAs), State Veterinary Services (SVEs), poultry breeders and public stakeholders in general, of measures to be carried out by the Official Veterinary Service (SVO) in order to prevent, control and check the spread of the infectious agents of these diseases in Brazil's poultry flock. Click here to have more information, and to access the Federal Contingency Plan.