The existence of a country with a huge poultry industry and no trace or sign of avian influenza seems increasingly far-fetched these days. However, one such country is Brazil, which thus far has not suffered any animal health problems of outbreak magnitude. Regardless, last week during the International Poultry and Swine Show (SIAVS) of Brazil, the recurring theme in both the presentations and in the hallways was avian flu.
Considering the size of the Brazilian poultry industry, we can understand what is at stake. Prevention efforts come from the industry itself, the trade association and government authorities. For example, Katia Abreu, the Minister of Agriculture, spoke of the resources that will be devoted to agricultural defense. There was also mention of the creation of areas of meticulous inspection at the borders, of permanent epidemiological surveillance in migratory birds and product transportation electronic control, as well as the ban on visits to farms and plants.
Here are some additional practices I believe are worth noting:
1. Poultry production is concentrated in the South and due to the access to vast territory, there is enough space between production centers avoiding proximity of farms.
2. It’s a regulation in Brazil that no live animals are imported, only genetic material, which is analyzed before authorizing its use within the country.
3. A study of migratory birds from North America identified two entry points where these birds could bring in the virus. These points are under permanent surveillance. So far, test results have been negative.
4. There is both active and passive surveillance of the production areas and practice rapid detection methods at laboratory level.
5. In order to prevent an interruption in exporting, there is a system of regionalization and compartmentalization in place.
Nonetheless, both the industry and government authorities are preparing for the possibility of an eventual outbreak. But the expectation for the future is to continue to block entry of the disease.
What exactly does this mean? It might look like Brazil lies on a poultry bed of roses, but at the cost of a lot of preventive work. "We work hard and pray [the outbreak] does not happen," said Ricardo Santin, vice president of poultry of ABPA (Brazilian Association of Animal Protein).