In late August 2019, an H7N6 outbreak affected a turkey pen in the Nogales district, causing various countries to stop buying related products.
Chile has recovered its status of “avian influenza free country.” The news was confirmed by the Minister of Agriculture, Antonio Walker, who explained that all the necessary steps have been completed at the local level to eradicate the H7N6 low pathogenic outbreak that affected a turkey farm in the Valparaíso Region in September 2019. “This achievement is the result of the joint effort of the public and private sectors, thanks to which the outbreak was considered contained and concluded after just four months of intense sampling and surveillance by SAG’s officials. It allows us to regain the status of avian influenza free country,” said the minister.
It was on August 27 last year when an avian influenza outbreak was detected in one of Sopraval’s turkey pens located in the Nogales district. At the time, the Governor of Quillota, Iván Cisternas, stated that the virus was detected “during one of the company’s regular controls. It affected young fattening poults not older than 20 days. SAG (the Agricultural and Livestock Service) conducted all the relevant controls and actions to prevent the situation from affecting other birds on the farm.” In fact, it established a one-kilometer restriction area around the farm and an additional one-kilometer surveillance area around the first one. SAG conducted active surveillance and an epidemiological survey in the area in accordance with the provisions of the World Organization for Animal Health’s Code. The outbreak included four focal points that affected fattening turkeys from the same company, all of them in Nogales.
Thus, although the situation resulted in the slaughtering of 65,000 turkeys, various importing countries of Chilean poultry products and by-products suspended purchases from the Chilean market. The first ones were Costa Rica, Argentina, and Peru, which decided to block the entry of any bird, egg, or related products of Chilean origin to preserve their own “avian influenza free country” status. Hong Kong followed, although it only restricted products coming from Nogales.
According to information provided by SAG to Emol (a Chilean online news outlet), after the news of Chile’s eradication of the virus, the markets that lifted the suspension on poultry imports and that have already opened their borders for these Chilean products are Japan, Peru, Costa Rica, and El Salvador. “In the coming days, we expect Canada to reopen,” they stated. On the other hand, given that it was an H7N6 low pathogenic outbreak, “major markets such as China, Colombia, Mexico, the United States, and Africa never suspended their imports.”
SAG’s Director, Horacio Bórquez, highlighted the work of the institution to address health emergencies and stressed that “outbreaks such as this one have negative trade consequences, which is why containing it is a high priority for our institution.” It should be noted that from the point of view of public health, “this event poses no risk, since the consumption of turkey and its by-products does not pose any transmission danger to humans,” as SAG stated when the outbreak first occurred.