Saturday, December 03, 2022

Venezuela Detects HPAI H5 In Wild Birds - Declares Health Alert



Five weeks ago HPAI H5N1 was reported for the first time in a South American country when two outbreaks were reported by Colombia very close to their border with Panama (see WOAH: Colombia Reports Two Outbreaks of HPAI H5N1).

A couple of weeks later Peru announced the detection of HPAI in pelicans (see Peru: SENASA Reports HPAI H5 In Pelicans) on "Los cangrejos" beach in Paita. 

Since then, roughly 14,000 birds have been reported to have died in numerous locations across Peru, and both Peru and neighboring Ecuador have reported outbreaks in poultry (see Peru & Ecuador Declare Animal Health Emergencies Over HPAI H5).

Yesterday Venezuela became the 4th South American country to confirm the arrival of HPAI H5 - again in seabirds - and has declared a 90-day health alert.  This press release from the Venezuelan Ministry of Popular Power for Science and Technology

H5N1 avian influenza virus detected in wild birds in Anzoátegui state
December 2, 2022 by Karina Depablos

Mincyt Press.- This Friday, December 2, the Bolivarian Government of Venezuela reported on the detection of the highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza virus in wild birds (pelicans), located in the north-coastal region of Anzoátegui state.

For this reason, the Ministry of Popular Power for Productive Agriculture and Land, through the National Institute of Comprehensive Agricultural Health (INSAI), with the support of the Ministry of Popular Power for Science and Technology, launched immediate preventive measures and decreed health alert in the states of Anzoátegui, La Guaira, Nueva Esparta, Sucre and Miranda for 90 days.

Likewise, quarantine was decreed in these four entities of the country , with the possibility of incorporating other states in accordance with the results and progress of epidemiological investigations of avian influenza, as it is also known.

In this sense, the mobilization of live birds and fertile eggs from the municipalities of Fernando de Peñalver, San Juan de Capistrano, Manuel Ezequiel Bruzual and others determined by the National Institute of Integral Agricultural Health (INSAI) in accordance with risk analysis is prohibited. epidemiological that are carried out. Also, they will intensify epidemiological surveillance in backyard and commercial birds, and will proceed to the sanitary culling of positive birds, contacts, with an epidemiological link or that generate a high health risk for viral transmission.

The Venezuelan Government urges the general population to immediately inform the Insai and other competent State entities about any indication or suspicion of the presence of signs of disease or mortality in birds of any species, due to unusual causes.

To comply with all these preventive measures, the national government will intensify the work of the human health and animal health teams, jointly and articulated. The Venezuelan population will be informed about the evolution of this situation.

It is worth noting that the Venezuelan Institute for Scientific Research (IVIC), an entity attached to the Ministry for Science and Technology, will deploy its staff to carry out genomic surveillance of the H5N1 avian influenza virus.

To read the health alert resolution, enter here: Resolution

Given the extent, and overlapping, of the north-south migratory flyways (see map below), it is likely that the HPAI H5 will will rapidly infiltrate across the width and length of the South American continent. 

 Although they have yet to report any outbreaks, yesterday - in anticipation of the virus's arrival - Bolivia's SENASAG issued a 90 day health alert 


In view of the health emergency in neighboring countries due to avian influenza, SENASAG recommends:
  1. Not introducing birds from another country without the Official Zoosanitary Certificate of Origin is a crime.
  2. Do not introduce birds from countries affected by Avian Influenza.
  3. For the entry of wild or domestic birds into Bolivia, the current sanitary standards and procedures established by SENASAG must be complied with.

Aside from the obvious threat to poultry and wild birds, HPAI H5 evolve easily and often (see Preprint: Rapid Evolution of A(H5N1) Influenza Viruses After Intercontinental Spread to North America), meaning new, and potentially more dangerous, variants may emerge as the virus spreads. 

Despite 4 known (mild) human infections, the health threat to the general public from these HPAI H5 viruses remains very low, and it is mainly of concern to those who work closely with poultry.

That assessment is subject to change, however.  Which is why the CDC has issued guidance for the public On Preventive Measures to Protect Against Bird Flu Viruses.