Argentina is back on track: Free of avian flu again

Argentina recovers its avian influenza-free status after 28 days have elapsed following the completion of the tasks of the last outbreak.

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Good news was announced yesterday, August 8, when Argentina declared itself free of the highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) virus before the World Organization for Animal Health (WOAH). The HPAI crisis started six months ago, passing from wild birds to backyard flocks to commercial birds, and the country had to stop exports. The situation was complicated, amid the rapid spread in neighboring countries, including Brazil.

The agriculture and livestock authorities reported that the sanitary actions for the last outbreak of HPAI in commercial birds ended, with the closure of the last of the 18 outbreaks detected in commercial farms in Argentina. It is a milestone in disease control.

Argentina worked hard on all fronts to recover its exports and its sanitary status. The Senasa (the National Health and Agri-Food Quality Agency) and the leaders of the broiler producers (Cepa) and egg producers (Capia) agreed on the wonderful coordination between the public and private sectors, which ultimately lead to the self-declaration of disease-free status before the WOAH. They feel very proud about it, and they should be.

However, the animal health emergency lingers, and the question of whether or not to vaccinate, remains to be answered. Animal health authorities are still evaluating all the strategies because some want vaccination and others don’t. Vaccination is still considered to be one more tool. It could be an ally.

The “no” comes from the broiler producers because they claim it will be very difficult to eradicate HPAI with vaccination and they long to get exports to normal levels.

The “yes” to vaccination comes from the egg producers. They say it is the best tool for long life-cycle birds, such as laying hens. And they have a point – seven out of every ten birds that were slaughtered as a result of the disease were laying hens. And there are no plans for repopulating farms, so it is expected that there will be 3.3-3.5% less eggs produced. This means less supply in the local market. So, egg producers will continue in their efforts to request vaccination.

Meanwhile, the health emergency continues, but there is peace. It might be temporary. But let’s hope it stays for a long time.

What do you think?

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