Systemic risks: H5N1 strain detected in Mexico

In the latest indication of the continuing spread of avian flu, Mexican animal safety authorities confirmed this week the first case of H5N1 avian influenza in a wild bird.

A case of H5N1 avian influenza was found in a “clinically healthy” migratory duck in the state of Jalisco, the animal safety agency Senasica, which is part of the agriculture ministry, said in a statement.

Senasica stressed that the confirmed H5N1 case means that poultry farmers should be on alert to prevent the entry of infected wild birds.

The H5N1-free designation facilitates the sale of live poultry, as well as poultry products and by-products originating in Mexico.

Last October, the agriculture ministry reported it had detected the virus in a 60,000-bird commercial farm in the state of Nuevo Leon a few days after notifying the World Organization for Animal Health of a first case of the serious strain.

To guarantee Mexico remains free of the disease, the agency said it will maintain epidemiological surveillance, traceability, control of movement and other strict safety procedures, the government said in the document. 

Earlier this year Brazil declared a 180-day animal health emergency following the discovery of avian flu among wild birds.

The measure was put in place in a bid to prevent the spread of the disease to commercial and subsistence poultry farms and preserve wildlife and human health.

Meanwhile, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) recently announced that it has restricted the import of poultry from France and its European Union trading partners following France’s decision to vaccinate meat ducks against highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI).

APHIS said vaccination poses a risk of introducing HPAI into the United States. Vaccinated birds may not show any signs of disease but can harbor the virus, a situation that can mask the spread of the virus. The United States doesn’t allow poultry imports from countries affected by HPAI or from flocks that have been vaccinated against HPAI.

The restrictions against French poultry took effect October 1 and also include live ducks, duck eggs, and unmitigated duck products from France’s trading partners. With the way poultry is traded and marketed in the European Union and related countries, APHIS can’t ensure that the exports don’t originate from countries vaccinating against HPAI.

APHIS said its discussions with the European Commission about HPAI vaccination programs in the European Union are ongoing.