Two more South American countries have reported infections of highly pathogenic avian influenza to the World Organisation for Animal Health (WOAH).

While neither case is in a large-scale commercial poultry flock, these are the first reported instances of HPAI in Peru and Venezuela. Elsewhere in South America, earlier cases were reported in Colombia and Ecuador.

Avian influenza in Peru

The presence of HPAI was first suspected in Peru on November 18, during epidemiological surveillance activities in areas of Lambayeque, where seabirds were dying. Near that area at one farm, an increase in mortality in poultry was noticed. Twenty-one birds were also exhibiting signs such as lethargy, greenish diarrhea and cyanosis of the chin. Tissue samples and swabs were collected from a rooster and a duck, and sent to the national Animal Health Diagnostic Center. 

The owner stated that 15 days ago he vaccinated his birds against Newcastle disease and fowl cholera, and seven days after vaccination he observed a mortality of 200 ducks. On November 30, all birds on the farm were culled, followed by sanitary burial in the same place. A total of 241 birds were lost. Cleaning and disinfection of the farm is taking place. 

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Within the 5 kilometers of the outbreak, there are five commercial poultry farms with a total population of 105,600 birds. The type identified is avian influenza type A subtype H5. Neuraminidase typing is pending, WOAH reported.

Avian influenza in Venezuela

On 25 November, the National Institute of Integral Agricultural Health (INSAI) received a report of mortality observed in pelicans in mangroves in Puerto Píritu lagoon, in the area of the Luis Cabeza Martínez ecological recreational park, north of the Anzoátegui state. 

Four birds were necropsied and tissue samples were taken and sent to the National Institute of Hygiene Rafael Rangel (INHRR), where the first laboratory diagnosis was obtained on November 27, and the H5 subtype was identified. Subsequently, the Venezuelan Institute for Scientific Research (IVIC) confirmed the diagnosis and completed the characterization of the virus as H5N1 on November 29, 2022. 

There are no commercial poultry farms in the area, but active epidemiological surveillance is being maintained in backyard poultry in the area, as well as passive surveillance in wild birds.