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Report released on high pathogenicity avian influenza in wildlife in South America and Antarctica

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The OFFLU ad-hoc group on HPAI H5 in wildlife of South America and Antarctica, part of WOAH/FAO Network of Expertise on Animal Influenza (OFFLU), a global network of expertise on animal influenzas, recently released a statement entitled “Southward expansion of high pathogenicity avian influenza H5 in wildlife in South America: estimated impact on wildlife populations, and risk of incursion into Antarctica.

The report summarizes the spread of high pathogenicity avian influenza subtype H5 clade through wildlife South America, since its first detection there in October 2022. It also evaluates the risk for incursion into Antarctica.

According to the report, the impacts of the current avian influenza outbreak on South American wildlife are “enormous,” with more than 500,000 wild birds and more than 20,000 wild mammals reported dead so far, with “actual mortality likely many times larger.” The virus has spread to the southern tip of South America and the report indicates that, “there is a substantial risk it will continue southwards and in the near future reach Antarctica and its offshore islands, which provide breeding habitat for over 100 million birds every spring.”

Read more about OFFLU’s work on avian influenza in their 2022 Annual Report.

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