QUITO (Reuters) – Ecuador’s agriculture minister said on Wednesday that more than 2 million birds were planning to be vaccinated against bird flu to curb an epidemic in the country.
The South American country declared an animal health emergency at the end of November after the first infection on a farm in the central state of Cotopaxi, with outbreaks now occurring in three other states.
The poultry vaccination process will begin in the next two months and Ecuador will import 4 million doses through a partnership between Mexico and Ecuador, Agriculture Minister Bernardo Manzano said at a press conference.
About 1.2 million birds have been infected with the virus and are being culled in four provinces of the country, according to official data.
“Vaccines, along with biosecurity and control measures, can help prevent the spread of disease within a country,” Manzano said, reducing bird mortality on farms.
In January, Ecuador reported its first human case of avian influenza in a 9-year-old girl who was likely infected through direct contact with virus-carrying poultry in Bolivar state.
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Vaccination does not prevent infection on other farms in at-risk areas, but it does reduce bird mortality, says Patricio Almeida, Director of Regulation and Phytosanitary and Animal Health Administration (Agrocalidad). says.
“The vaccine is biologically safe and poses no risk to humans,” Almeida told journalists. “The mortality rate is reduced from 80% to 40%.”
Ecuador produces 263 million chickens, equivalent to 495,000 tons of meat and 4.6 billion eggs.
Reporting by Alexandra Valencia Written by Stephen Grattan and Josie Kao
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