Mexico detects H5N1 avian influenza in wild bird

Mexican authorities confirm H5N1 avian influenza in a migratory duck; country's poultry farms declared free of the virus earlier.
Test tubes labelled "Bird Flu" and eggs are seen in this picture illustration, January 14, 2023.
Test tubes labelled "Bird Flu" and eggs are seen in this picture illustration, January 14, 2023. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) -Mexican animal safety authorities confirmed the first case of H5N1 avian influenza in a wild bird on Wednesday, after declaring the country's poultry farms free of the virus earlier in the day.

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.

Earlier, the government declared in its official gazette that the country was H5N1 free, almost a year after starting a bird vaccination campaign in high-risk areas to prevent its spread.

Senasica stressed that the confirmed H5N1 case does not signal an outbreak of the disease or contradict that declaration but instead it 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, according to the gazette.

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, it will maintain epidemiological surveillance, traceability, control of movement and other strict safety procedures, the government said in the document.

The Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza, commonly called bird flu, has led to the culling of millions of birds in the United States and Europe.

In May, Brazil decreed a 180-day animal health emergency after detecting several cases, and Ecuador confirmed the presence of the virus in some birds in the Galapagos Islands in September.

(Report by Raul Cortes Fernandez and Brendan O'Boyle; Editing by Drazen Jorgic and Bill Berkrot)

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