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Brazil declares health emergency amid Avian Flu cases in wild birds

 An employee dilutes poultry serum samples for ELISA test for the detection of antibodies to the avian influenza virus at the Reference Laboratory of the World Organization for Animal Health in Campinas, Brazil April 25, 2023. [Reuters]

Brazil declared a state of animal health emergency for 180 days in response to the country's first detection of the highly pathogenic avian influenza virus in wild birds, in a document signed Monday by Agriculture Minister Carlos Favaro.

Infection by the H5N1 subtype of avian flu in wild birds does not trigger trade bans, based on guidelines of the World Organization for Animal Health. However, a case of bird flu on a farm usually results in the entire flock being killed and can trigger trade restrictions from importing countries.

Brazil, the world's biggest chicken meat exporter with $9.7 billion in sales last year, has so far confirmed eight cases of the H5N1 in wild birds, including seven in Espirito Santo state and one in Rio de Janeiro state.

The country's agriculture ministry said later Monday it has created an emergency operations center to coordinate, plan and evaluate "national actions related to avian influenza."

Though Brazil's main meat producing states are in the south, the government is on alert after the confirmed cases, as avian flu in wild birds has been followed by transmission to commercial flocks in some countries.

Over the weekend, the Health Ministry said samples of 33 suspected cases of avian influenza in humans in Espirito Santo, where Brazil confirmed the first cases in wild birds last week, came back negative for the H5N1 subtype.

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