Ecuadorian authorities estimate that more than 300,000 birds have been infected with bird flu in the South American country.
Agrocalidad reported that “does not affect people who eat eggs and chicken meat in any way“.
“It is estimated that there will be just over 300,000 birds“, commented the director of the Phytosanitary and Zoosanitary Regulation and Control Agency (Agrocalidad), Patricio Almeida, during a press conference on Monday.
The outbreak was identified at the end of November in a poultry farm in the province of Cotopaxi, in central Ecuador.
Immediately, the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock (MAG), through Agrocalidad, activated an epidemiological fence to control the situation.
On Dec. 3, Agrocalidad reported removing 180,000 birds from the affected Cotopaxi property, under National Avian Influence Response Plan control protocols.
“The protocol will continue 21 days after disinfection and cleaning, where the induction of avian influenza negative sentinel birds will continue. MAG and Agrocalidad will carry out continuous surveillance of sentinel birds by taking samples to rule out the presence of the virus“, detailed the institution.
“The outbreak, which was detected in a single farm, is contained“, Almeida said at Monday’s press conference.
Does bird flu affect humans?
On December 7, the Minister of Agriculture and Livestock, Bernardo Manzano, indicated that after analyzing the samples of infected birds, the National Institute for Public Health Research (INSPI) confirmed that the bird flu epidemic corresponds to the H5N1 subtype.
The Minister clarified that thisdoes not affect human health”for which he invited the public to “continue to consume, with confidence, chicken meat and quality eggs”.
Agrocalidad also reaffirmed that “bird flu does not affect people who eat eggs and chicken meat in any way“.
The Minister indicated that to deal with the epidemic “A health emergency remains in effect for 90 days, until the end of February 2023“.
He noted that they keptsurveillance, monitoring and sampling in the epidemiological barrier zone”, as well as “the deployment of technicians in the territory at the national level“.
Specifically, there are 850 technicians spread across the South American country to carry out checks and sampling for bird flu on farms, wetlands and backyards, the minister said.
“Rest assured that we have taken the necessary measures to contain the epidemic“, he underlined.
To avoid contagion to species endemic to the Galápagos Islands, the authorities have implemented specific security measures, such as prohibiting the entry of certain products into the archipelago.
The bird flu alert in Ecuador was triggered after that declared in Peru in November. In the neighboring country, health authorities have recorded the death of more than 22,000 wild seabirds, mainly pelicans, along the entire coast.
Will there be a shortage?
Almeida stressed that despite the situation “there will be no shortage”, since, according to official calculations, dead or slaughtered birds represent 0.15% of the country’s total.
In Ecuador, according to Agrocalidad, there are 1,810 poultry farms, which produce 500,000 tons of chicken and 3,000 million eggs per year.
However, there was a 15-20% reduction in the consumption of poultry products such as chicken, eggs and turkey during the first days of December, reported Diana Espín, executive director of the National Corporation of Breeders. poultry from Ecuador (Conave ).
“This drop on these dates is not normal, we are in the months with the highest consumption of this protein“, he commented in this regard, indicating that this is due to misinformation on social networks, which has aroused fear among citizens.
Also, the price has gone down. According to Espín, the cost of a pound of chicken sold alive has suffered a reduction of between 12 and 22%.
“The year was not good for the sector“, supported the head of Conave, pointing to different situations they faced; In addition to bird flu, he referred to the protests in the country last June and the situation between Russia and Ukraine, which he said had increased the prices of agricultural inputs.