Currently, the global poultry industry has been impacted by the presence of Avian Influenza or bird flu, which has caused, so far, large economic losses due to the sacrifices of infected birds, also taking into account that once this disease is detected there is no effective treatment to fight it.
Avian influenza or bird flu is a viral disease caused by influenza virus type A belonging to the genus Alphainfluenzavirus of the Orthomyxoviridaevirus family.
There are different subtypes that allow classifying the virus as of high or low pathogenicity and therefore the symptoms presented in birds may change.
The virus settles mainly in the respiratory tract producing systemic disease that leads to high mortality in birds, these effects are caused by the so-called Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza virus, HPAI, where the H5 and H7 subtypes are mainly found, while those that may cause located infections that may be without symptoms or very slightly, are called Low Pathogenic Influenza viruses, LPAI.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), HPAI can lead to a disease that affects several internal organs within 48 hours post infection with a mortality rate of 90 to 100% in commercial poultry.
The first outbreak of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza was detected in Asia, and later manifested itself in Europe, spreading to North America, to later enter Latin American countries.
The arrival of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) in Latin America was first reported in March 2022 and has spread to almost all countries in the area. Since that date, HPAI has spread to Argentina, Bolivia, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Chile, Ecuador, Honduras, Guatemala, Mexico, Panama, Peru, Venezuela and Uruguay.
In the most recent update provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture on February 17, 2023, it was officially reported that 58.39 million birds have been affected by the outbreak of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza in the United States only.
In the face of this situation, the United States and Mexico have tried different methods of vaccination against the virus, with the hope that this will become an ally to reduce the infection capacity of the microorganism.
In view of the advance of HPAI, it is estimated that only in Latin America it could produce the same effect that has been registered in the United States, where the price of eggs has reached 70.1% year-on-year, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). This is mainly due to the H5N1 outbreak, compared to other foods, which have shown a moderate increase in their prices, given the inflation faced by this country.
In this scenario, the prices of poultry products, such as eggs, could increase significantly due to the decrease in the number of laying hens in production.
Due to this situation, poultry producers in Latin America and in most parts of the world, in conjunction with the health authorities of each country, have taken control, prevention and biosecurity measures to prevent the further spread of Avian Influenza and avoid the devastating situation that could be generated in the region with large economic losses for the sector and, consequently, an increase in the price of eggs.
According to the latest information provided by the Latin American Egg Institute (ILH), only in Latin America, there are a total of 588,635,000 laying hens, which produce 172,360,768,000 eggs, making it a protein of high nutritional quality, available at an affordable price for a population of 630.8 million people in the region.
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