Peru declares alert to avoid contagion in farm birds

LIMA (HPD) — Peru declared a health alert on Thursday due to the discovery of a disease with high mortality in pelicans and which it is feared could infect millions of commercially farmed birds.

The National Agrarian Health Service (Senasa) will intensify epidemiological surveillance for six months, according to the official newspaper El Peruano, to detect avian influenza type A, subtype H5N1, which has already killed 3,400 pelicans on the Pacific coast, in the area North of the country.

Senasa chief Miguel Quevedo told local radio station RPP that it is likely that the pelicans found dead on Peruvian beaches were infected with the disease from the Franklin’s gull when it passed on its way from the United States to Patagonia.

“We suspect that the species that is transmitting this virus is the Franklin gull,” Quevedo said. Authorities are concerned that the disease will spread among commercially farmed birds and backyard birds, which include turkeys, ducks, chickens and fighting cocks.

The disease is deadly for birds, the expert said. In Peru, around 720 million chickens are produced per year and their meat is the favorite of Peruvians, according to data from the Ministry of Agriculture.

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