Brazilian authorities Wednesday extended for 180 days a declaration of animal health emergency nationwide due to avian influenza, Agencia Brasil reported. The Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock adopted the measure due to the identification of outbreaks of the highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza virus, mainly in wild birds.
Under this legal status, the government may implement preventive policies to protect commercial birds from contamination by the disease.
An animal health emergency was declared on May 22, a week after the first detection of contaminated migratory wild birds. Within six months, 139 outbreaks have been identified, with only three occurring in subsistence birds in the states of Espírito Santo, Santa Catarina, and Mato Grosso do Sul.
According to the World Organization for Animal Health (WOAH) protocol, as there have been no cases in commercial birds, Brazil maintains its status as an H5N1-free country.
A total of 2,207 cases have already been investigated by the Official Veterinary Service, with 609 samples sent for laboratory analysis. Currently, 18 cases are still under investigation, and 139 cases have been confirmed, primarily in the coastal area stretching from the south of Bahia to Rio Grande do Sul.
Brazil holds a 35% share of the global chicken meat market and is the world's largest exporter. Due to the virus's high mutation and adaptability capacity to new hosts, H5N1 represents a risk mainly to international trade in poultry products and occasionally poses a threat to human and animal health.
Although no human cases of the disease have been reported in Brazil, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) has recorded cases in the Americas, including the United States, Chile, and Ecuador.