chicken exports to China

Brazil boosts bird flu defense to protect world’s top chicken industry

May, 18, 2023 Posted by Gabriel Malheiros

Week 202323

Brazil is taking extra precautions to protect the world’s largest chicken export industry from a highly pathogenic avian influenza virus detected this week among wild birds in the country after hitting neighboring nations.

Nearly $10 billion of chicken exports would be at risk if H5N1 bird flu infects commercial flocks in Brazil, which has taken on a growing role in supplying the world’s poultry and eggs as importing nations ban chicken and turkey meat from countries with the virus.

On Monday, May 15, the only World Organization for Animal Health (WOAH) accredited lab in Latin America confirmed the detection of H5N1 in two wild Thalasseus acuflavidus birds, or Cabot’s terns, and one Brown Booby (Sula leucogaster) captured in Espirito Santo state.

More recently, on Thursday, May 18, Brazil’s Ministry of Health confirmed a suspected case of avian influenza in humans in the capital city of Espírito Santo, Vitória. The patient is a 61-year-old man, an employee of a park where a bird tested positive for the disease was found. He has mild flu-like symptoms, and according to the health surveillance protocol, he is in isolation and is monitored by health teams in the municipality.

In a statement, the Ministry said that samples from the suspected patient and 32 other people who also work in the park are being tested for the virus.

A case of bird flu on a farm usually results in the entire flock being killed and can trigger trade restrictions from importing countries, while detection among wild birds does not spark bans under WOAH guidelines.

Brazilian officials say they do not expect the cases in wild birds to have any trade impact and noted Espirito Santo on Brazil’s central Atlantic coast does not border any of the country’s major poultry-producing states in the far south.

The chart below displays Brazil’s export volume of poultry meat to some of its main international buyers from Jan 2020 to Mar 2023. The data is from Datamar’s DataLiner service.

Poultry exports to top importers | Jan 2020 – Mar 2023 | WTMT

Source: DataLiner (click here to request a demo)

In other countries, avian flu outbreaks in wild birds have frequently been followed by transmission to commercial flocks.

The Brazilian government this year raised investments 19-fold to increase testing capacity at its network of six federal laboratories and increased the overall budget of its Animal and Plant Health and Inspection Services by some 12% to 209 million reais ($42 million).

“For every 1 real spent in the Campinas federal laboratory, some 64 reais of potential losses are avoided to the chicken industry,” said Rodrigo Nazareno, who coordinates the national laboratory network.


In recent weeks, Brazil started using drones to patrol sensitive areas such as the Pantanal, the world’s largest freshwater wetland, and implemented a strict ban on commercial farm visits by non-authorized persons.

After cases were confirmed in neighboring Argentina and Uruguay, Brazil announced a 90-day suspension of all events involving poultry exposition in late March.

The agriculture ministry told Reuters that more testing might be required within a 10-km (6.2-mile) radius of the Espirito Santo outbreaks, including of commercial flocks, and that it will maintain surveillance of potential cases in wild birds nationwide.

Brazil’s chicken export revenue jumped by more than 27% in dollars last year as local companies benefited from the global avian flu scare, which opened up new markets.

China and the Middle East remained big customers. And the European Union, where countries like France had to kill millions of birds to contain outbreaks, boosted import volumes from Brazil by some 23%, chicken industry data show.

The virus arrived in South America through migratory birds, said Masaio Mizuno Ishizuka, a senior epidemiologist at the University of Sao Paulo.

Usually, birds will only spread bird flu for around five days. But the virus’ presence in small sea life the birds feed on may have enabled its broader spread this year, she said.

“The virus is extremely capable of presenting mutations to increase its potential for survival as a species,” Ishizuka cautioned.

Source: Money Times

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