Around 40,000 chickens were killed and buried in Chile on Wednesday after the country confirmed its first case of bird flu in an industrial animal factory of the Chilean meat production company Agrosuper.
“We are talking about 40,000 birds that were in the breeding stage. These birds have been killed and placed in a ditch,” said Carlos Orellana from the Agricultural and Livestock Service (SAG) in Chile.
The outbreak was detected on Monday in Rancagua in central Chile, which led to the government suspending chicken exports for 28 days.
Since last year, cases of bird flu have been mostly detected in wild animals in Chile. “We’ve had mammals, sea lions, that have been affected mainly in the north (of Chile),” said Ximena Aguilera, Chile’s health minister.
“We’ve had wild birds, but people haven’t been infected,” she said, adding that people -mostly farm workers- who could potentially be at risk are being monitored. In February, an 11-year-old girl died in Cambodia after she was infected with bird flu. Her father, who was showing symptoms, also tested positive for bird flu.
In the past year, bird flu has been spreading in the world, killing more than 200 million birds -including healthy birds killed at farms when bird flu is detected- sending egg prices through the roof and raising concern about human transmission.
Birds infected with bird flu can get a range of symptoms: coughing, sneezing, nasal, diarrhea, decreased food intake, swelling and discoloration of their head, neck, and eyes and sudden death. In humans, bird flu can cause severe respiratory illness, which can sometimes lead to death.