Why hasn't avian influenza hit further south?

The airborne spread of avian influenza and through migratory birds – and poor biosecurity practices – has been widely accepted.

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In reviewing migratory bird maps, it is surprising to see that birds travel from the Canadian Boreal forests all the way to Brazil and even Argentina. Almost all routes (Pacific, Central and Eastern) cover the US, narrow down in Mexico and Central America and open up again in the vast South America. A few days ago, while speaking with a poultry industry colleague about the outbreaks of avian influenza in Mexico and the US, he asked me: Isn't it strange that the furthest south avian influenza has reached is Puebla (Mexico) and there are no reports of it in Central or South America?

If you think about it, reports actually stop at the Guatemalan border. Mexico reported the presence of the virus in wild birds in the border state of Chiapas. But nothing else is reported further south. This poses several questions: Are there unsatisfactory epidemiological controls? Is biosecurity that good further south? Or has it just been a random event that there is no avian flu in the rest of the continent?

Frankly it's something to think about and it would be worth analyzing. Evidently, the rest of the continent should be relieved for now and take advantage of this time, but should take care to thatch the roof before the rain begins. John Clifford, Chief Veterinary Officer of the US, recently said at a USAPEEC meeting that they are preparing for the worst-case scenario this coming fall (in the Northern hemisphere) regarding the spread of avian influenza by wild birds in flyways. Also expected is an outbreak in turkeys, laying hens and broilers. All this includes the highly pathogenic avian influenza.

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