On May 22, the Brazilian government declared a 180-day animal health emergency following the country’s first detection of a highly pathogenic avian influenza virus in wild birds. Agriculture Minister Carlos Favaro signed a document stating that wild bird infections with the H5N1 subtype of avian influenza are not subject to a trade ban under World Animal Health Organization guidelines. However, the outbreak on farms can lead to the death of entire flocks and trigger trade restrictions from importing countries. Brazil is the world’s largest poultry exporter and recorded sales of $9.7 billion last year.
Brazil has confirmed five cases so far; wild bird H5N1 cases were identified in four locations in Espirito Santo and one in Rio de Janeiro. Three out of four cases in Espirito Santo were detected in coastal cities, with the fourth one not discovered, indicating that there could be a heightened risk of transmission inland. Brazil’s main meat-producing states are located in the south, but some countries have confirmed infections in commercial flocks after avian flu was detected in wild birds, and the government is on alert after confirmed cases.
The world’s largest poultry exporter, Brazil-based BRF SA (BRFS3.SA), closed the day down by 0.5% after gaining 3.6% before the government announcement. Conversely, last weekend, Brazil’s Ministry of Health confirmed that it had released a sample of 33 suspected human bird flu cases in the Espirito Santo state. The first case of infection in wild birds was negative for the H5N1 subtype. However, two other new suspected cases are under investigation.