Chile detected its first avian flu outbreak in the country on March 13 at a meat production plant in west-central Chile. The country has temporarily suspended its chicken exports. Officials said it is still safe to consume chicken meat.
Minister of Agriculture Esteban Valenzuela held a press conference March 13 to announce the first official case of the avian flu outbreak in poultry. Valenzuela said the flu was detected at AgroSuper‘s facility Rancagua. He also reassured the public that the poultry was safe to eat.
“This case doesn’t not affect anything in terms of the consumption of ‘white meat’ or chickens,” he said. “This flu is transmitted through the saliva ejections of birds and not from the meat.”
☝️ Esto no implica un riesgo para la población y los protocolos están activados para evitar la diseminación de la enfermedad a otros planteles avícolas. pic.twitter.com/Q8qrc6WwIf
— Esteban Valenzuela Van Treek (@tvalenzuelavt) March 13, 2023
What is the avian flu?
The avian flu, also known as the bird flu, is a disease caused by a very contagious virus that principally affects domestic and wild birds. The flu can also be transmitted to other species, like mammals, including humans, but it is important to note that the human flu virus, also called the seasonal flu, is not the same virus as the bird flu.
How does the avian flu spread?
The flu is transmitted the following ways:
- Contact with the beaks and nostrils of infected birds.
- Contact with the feces, plumage, intestines, and blood of infected birds.
- Contact with infected birds even if they look healthy.
- Contact with people who have been in contact with infected birds via their hands, shirts, shoes, or vehicle tires.
What are the symptoms in infected birds?
- Lack of appetite and coordination.
- Bristly feathers.
- Difficulty breathing with nasal secretions.
- Lower production of eggs, with soft or deformed shells.
- Head swelling and bluish color of crest, chin, and feet.
- Prostration and death.
What preventive steps can be taken?
- Keep birds in protected places and isolated from other animals, people, and wild birds.
- Keep water and food away from wild birds.
- Clean and disinfect birds’ facilities regularly.
- Upon introducing birds of different origins, keep birds separated for 21 days.
- Regulate the entry of people, tools, animals, and vehicles to the living space of the domestic birds.
- Wash hands with water and soap after handling poultry.
- Take extreme safety measures in pens to avoid contact of domestic birds with wild ones.
More information about the flu and its prevention can be found here.
Chongyang Zhang is pursuing an Erasmus Mundus Joint Master’s program in journalism, media and globalisation. His interest lies in the relations among the United States, Latin America and China. He is currently doing an exchange semester at the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile.