Veterinary officials from Ecuador reported the country’s first case of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) to the World Organisation for Animal Health (WOAH).

A report on the WOAH website detailed the first-ever case of HPAI to be reported by Ecuador’s animal health agency, Agrocalidad. That report stated that operators at an egg laying farm in Chaguana noticed a mortality rate that was unusual. Of the 180,100 chickens on the farm, 49,900, or about 28% of them had died. The report was published online on November 28.

Testing was done at Agrocalidad’s Animal Diagnostic Department Laboratory, and those tests came back positive with a confirmation date of November 25. The exact serotype of the virus found has not yet been determined, but it is known that it is an H5 variant.

The remaining chickens on the premises will be depopulated. Intervention zones have been defined in the outbreak zone, in the zone around the outbreak and in the surveillance zone, along with sampling of all farms and implementation of containment measures. Passive surveillance has been strengthened to detect new outbreaks. 

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Of the 29 South American egg producers with 1.5 million or more layers in production that are listed in the Poultry International Top Companies issue, only one of them is in Ecuador.

Not only is this the first case of HPAI in commercial poultry in Ecuador to be reported to WOAH, it is also the first to be reported in commercial poultry in South America. However, HPAI has been detected in non-commercial birds in neighboring Colombia

Colombian officials in October reported that two properties in Acandi had tested positive for HPAI. Since that time, the total number of HPAI cases in the country has reached 13, WOAH reported, collectively affecting 652 birds.

Read our ongoing coverage of the global avian influenza outbreak.