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Venezuela: Bird flu in wild birds

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  • Venezuela: Bird flu in wild birds


    The H5N1 influenza virus only affects birds in the country
    The Ivic, the National Institute of Hygiene, Inparques and Insai monitor the cases. Bird flu with low probability of infecting humans
    Rosiris Ortega
    December 28, 2022

    Venezuelan scientists affirm that the H5N1 virus to date has only affected birds in the national territory and represents a low probability of contagion for humans.

    This has been determined during the sequencing of the genetic characterization of the avian influenza virus in the country, carried out by specialists from the Venezuelan Institute for Scientific Research (Ivic), the National Institute of Hygiene, the National Institute of Integral Agricultural Health (Insai ) and the Institute for Advanced Studies...

    ...The cases.

    In early November 2022, the H5N1 avian influenza virus detected in birds of the species pelecanus occidentalis or pelicans, which turned up dead in the Puerto Píritu lagoon, Anzoátegui state, was registered for the first time in Venezuela.

    The finding made by fishermen was communicated to the National Institute of Parks of Venezuela (Inparques), and informed to the Ministry for Ecosocialism (Minec) that began the investigation together with the World Organization for Animal Health (Omsa) and the INSAI taking samples of birds infected that were later sent to the Rafael Rangel National Institute of Hygiene, where they identified the H5 subtype.

    In the research chain, the final data of the H5 subtype were sent to the Ivic laboratories, where the scientists carried out the genomic sequencing and genetic characterization of the avian influenza virus in the country.

    "Thanks to the experience we have accumulated with molecular analysis of the H1N1 pandemic between 2009 and 2010, we were able to quickly proceed with the sequencing of influenza isolates that infected and killed pelicans in Venezuela, and identify the H5N1 virus," explained Flor Pujol, head of the Ivic Molecular Virology laboratory during a conference on Avian Influenza.

    He explained that the sequence was deposited in an international database, and together with the ongoing investigations, it is clear that the influenza virus circulating in the country is of the H5N1 type, which allows the generation of containment and prevention strategies. "The idea is not to alarm, it is about health surveillance and to prevent this virus from passing to poultry," she emphasized.
    Health alert.

    After the detection of the virus, in the country, the government authorities decreed a health alert for a period of 90 days from last November 29, in a joint resolution of the Ministries of Agriculture and Science published in Official Gazette No. 41,648.

    The alert was issued in the coastal states of Anzoátegui, Miranda, Nueva Esparta, Sucre and La Guaira, where the presence of pelicans is recorded, for which measures such as quarantine, prohibition of moving live birds and fertile eggs, surveillance of birds of backyard and commercial, and sacrifice of infected birds.

    In this sense, the last Animal Health Epidemiological Bulletin issued on December 5 by INSAI verifies that the number of outbreaks began on November 17, in Puerto Píritu with 172 dead pelicans, a figure that is also established by the World Health Information System (Wahis ) of the Omsa.

    Similarly, it reports on 10 suspected cases in Nueva Esparta with 2, Sucre with 2, Anzoátegui with 4 and Miranda with 2 more for a total of 48. The bulletin adds that the birds killed by avian influenza were possibly infected by migratory birds coming from of North America.
    For his part, the governor of the state of Anzoátegui, Luis José Marcano, declared to the national media that as of December 6, close to 250 birds had died in the Fernando Peñalver municipality, but the number began to drop after the controls applied...