Highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) continues to spread through Latin America, with confirmed cases in the South American nation of Argentina and the Central American country of Guatemala.

However, none of the birds where the virus was detected are part of commercial poultry flocks, according to the World Organisation for Animal Health (WOAH).

Avian influenza in Argentina

WOAH reported that the lone case of HPAI in Argentina is in a single bird. The country’s first HPAI case involved an Andean goose, which was found dead in the Jujuy province, which is near the country’s border of Bolivia, where multiple cases have been confirmed in both commercial poultry and backyard poultry.

The exact serotype of HPAI involved in the Argentina case, has not been verified, but it is of an H5 variety, according to WOAH.

“Investigations are ongoing, but contact with (other) migratory wild birds is presumed to be the source of infection,” WOAH stated in its report. “So far, no other birds have been affected. Since this is a high-altitude area, there are no nearby poultry farms.”

Testing was done at a National Agrarian Health Service (SENASA) laboratory, where the results came back positive. Argentinian animal health officials notified WOAH of the case on February 15.

In addition to Argentina and Bolivia, HPAI has been confirmed in these South American countries: Colombia, Peru, Ecuador, Venezuela and Chile.


Avian influenza in Guatemala

The first confirmed case of HPAI in Guatemala involved 11 brown pelicans, which were found dead in Puerto Barrios. 

Samples from these birds were tested at the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Veterinary Services Laboratories in Ames, Iowa, and those samples tested positive for an H5N1 variant of HPAI.

The source of the infection was reported as unknown or inconclusive.

Zoning and movement control actions have been implemented.

Other Central American countries to have reported HPAI infections to the WOAH to date, in addition to Guatemala, include Costa Rica, Honduras and Panama.

Read our ongoing coverage of the global avian influenza outbreak.