Consulting poultry veterinarian Armando Mirande spoke about avian influenza in Mexico during the 2013 Poultry Production and Health Seminar, saying that a new approach to the control of poultry diseases in Mexico is overdue.

Mirande, whose international clientele reaches into Mexico and other parts of Latin America, spoke September 17 at the Poultry Production and Health Seminar, held in Memphis, Tenn. A separate video interview with Mirande is also available on WATTAgNet: US implications of avian influenza in Mexico.

Following are highlights from a text document that Mirande made available at the meeting:

"Last summer México witnessed what is considered one of the world's costliest poultry outbreaks ever recorded when highly pathogenic Avian Influenza virus H7N3 was confirmed in commercial table egg layers in the Western Central State of Jalisco. Government and industry worked together to decisively activate and implement a series of pre-established control measures. Both, monetary and human assets were made available to enforce strict vigilance to contain, and eventually eradicate, such epizootic. Unfortunately, they simply failed. The cost of this outbreak from June to the end of 2012 was $750 MUSD; half a billion dollars in direct costs alone from mortality of somewhere between 22 and 27 million layers and from loss of egg production.

"Low path AI is seldom discussed in open forums, but its impact on live production parameters is well recognized amongst Mexican production veterinarians and company owners alike. Low path AI H5N2 in Mexico has demonstrated a predictable pattern from its consistent behavior in sickening flocks, varied in severity only by season, altitude, confounding infections or vaccination status. During the last meeting of the AAAP (American Association of Avian Pathologists) in Chicago in July, 2013, it was presented how the cost of this prevalent low path AI breaks down. Altogether and using conservative estimates, low path AI in México has represented an average direct cost to the local poultry industry of $246 MUSD annually over the last 18 years, or a cumulative $4.4 billion dollars. Maintaining proportions to the U.S. industry, this would equate to a $15.5 billion dollar loss, not including any losses in turkeys.

"Fifteen months after the first announced H7N3 outbreak at least 8 more episodes have been reported and many more have remained unstated. The virus is practically endemic in Central México now and given the striking similarities between the two different AI episodes, it is likely AI H7N3 will end up being also a common acquaintance of chickens throughout México in its low path form.

"There are a series of flaws and systematic inconsistencies in the policies affecting animal health that will be discussed to illustrate why the eradication of this, and other diseases, is practically impossible. For example, since 1998 and in an action without precedent, it became illegal in México for an individual, private institution or university to extract any type of biological material without a special permit; a permit that is never granted. Only the government in the office of the director of animal health has that ability. Of course our knowledge on the genetic make-up, pathogenesis, evolution, etc., of Mexican avian influenza viruses stopped 15 years ago.

"This presentation is a call for cautiousness to the U.S. industry. The lines of candid communication between the two commercial partners, whether at the government or private sectors, must be much improved. There are multiple ways for any of these aforementioned viruses to enter the American poultry supply chain and they must be properly identified and effectively avoided. A new approach to the control of poultry diseases in our most important trade partner is long overdue and must be demanded at the appropriate platforms."