Mike Pearson tells us how veterinarians and public health officials gathered across South America last week to discuss the global outbreak of the virus on the continent.

March 21, 2024

Mike Pearson tells us how about the South American efforts to keep an eye on the high pathogenic avian influenza.

For three years, HPAI has been wreaking havoc in the North American poultry industry. Data from the USDA shows nearly 80 million chickens, ducks and turkeys have been killed.

While U.S. and Canadian producers continue to fine tune their strategies for mitigating the virus on their farms, poultry farmers in South America are ramping up for their first big battle with the disease.

The complicating factor in South America appears to be the changing nature of the virus.

While there have been few cases of mammals catching the virus, 50,000 seals and sea lions along the cost of South America have been killed plus several dolphins in Chile and Peru.

The concern over the virus crossing over to humans prompted a meeting of the Pan-American Health Organization. The organization has 27 nation members and health officials from those countries gathered in Rio Janeiro.

Although the threat to humans is still minimal-- two deaths- one in Ecuador and Chile were attributed to HPAI but officials decided it was not enough to raise the risk level from low.

Also discussed at the meeting was a grizzly find on the Atlantic Coast of Argentina. Over 17,500 Elephant seal pups were found dead upon arrival for a yearly count. The concern is that they did not get the virus from birds but their mothers-- meaning mammal to mammal transmission.

After the meeting, the group decided to launch the world's first commission to monitor HPAI and response efforts which will be made available to the public.

Farm Progress America is a daily look at key issues in agriculture. It is produced and presented by Mike Pearson, farm broadcaster and host of This Week in Agribusiness.

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