Two Latin American nations officially free of avian flu

Argentina and Chile are again free of highly pathogenic avian influenza, recognized by the WOAH.

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Over the last month, two important Latin American countries have self-declared free of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) – Argentina and Chile. Argentina issued the self-declaration as HPAI-free, recognized by the World Organization for Animal Health (WOAH) on August 17, 2023. On the same token, this past September 14, WOAH recognized the HPAI-free self-declaration of the Chilean animal health authorities.

The importance of these two South American nations lies in the fact that they pursued a strong set of guidelines and accounts for compliance with all the necessary requirements to export poultry products to all countries in the world. After the virus struck commercial poultry production, they used every sanitary action at their disposal to free those facilities of the deadly virus and have exports restarted.

This accomplishment reveals two key takeaways. First is that renowned animal health authorities, such as SAG in Chile and SENASA in Argentina, have done a good job – together with producers and associations – fighting the virus. Let us remember that both countries export poultry products. Argentina has been recovering its export markets and seems to be back on track.

The other fact that I would like to highlight is that HPAI control is possible. Neither Argentina nor Chile have used vaccination as a strategy, so even though some others advocate vaccinating, this is a point worth considering. A country like Mexico might do well to remember this since it bases its decision of vaccinating nationwide on the difficulty of eradicating HPAI. Mexico does not export poultry, but I must say that Mexican producers have learned their lesson when it comes to HPAI.

An additional highlight is that biosecurity works – I mean, strict biosecurity. See Brazil, impacted by HPAI in wild birds and backyard poultry, but still exporting worldwide.

Finally, the HPAI emergency in Latin America seems to be settling down, although not resolved yet.

What do you think?

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