Bird flu rips through South America


The Peruvian National Forestry and Wildlife Service (Serfor) has announced the discovery of the bodies of 10,257 pelicans and 3,500 boobies along the country's coast. The news came in the wake of a 180-day health warning on 24 November following the initial detection of the virus subtype H5N1 in Peru.

Dead pelicans have also washed up on beaches and in mangroves in Venezuela, and in Ecuador. The disaster comes as wintering Brown Pelicans arrive on their coastal wintering grounds in northern South America. Two pelicans tested positive for bird flu in Chile, a day after the country's first recorded case. Cases have also been reported from Colombia.

Brown Pelicans have been the primary victims of South America's first serious wave of bird flu (Peter Garrity).

Birds collected in the Venezuelan state of Anzoategui tested positive for bird flu, resulting in a 90-day poultry industry quarantine there and in four other states. This prevents any live birds or fertile eggs being moved and means poultry flocks exposed to infected birds must be culled.

Serfor and AgroRural have deployed scientists to monitor the situation at a variety of sites across eight of Peru's regions, including Lima and Lambayeque. Both bodies advised the public to stay clear of any injured, sick or dead seabirds, in order to minimise the risk of spreading the virus.

Bird flu was detected in domestic stock for the first time in Peru at a poultry farm in Lambayeque, prompting the announcement of a quarantine protocol at the site. Peru's National Agrarian Health Service (Senasa) said the move was "to keep the outbreak under control with ongoing epidemiological monitoring."

Senasa said the detection of bird flu in poultry farms "poses no risk for the consumption of meat or eggs from domestic birds" but advised producers to tighten biosecurity measures at their properties.