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World’s Top Chicken Exporter Brazil Prepares War on Bird Flu

Although Brazil still has not had a single case of bird flu, the country continues preparations for dealing with the problem. On Friday, April 7, the Brazilian Minister of Health, José Agenor da Silva, announced the government’s Bird Flu Prevention Plan.

The plan comes in the form of an instruction (Instrução Normativa 17) which calls for an integrated government-private sector approach for combating the virus H5N1 in Brasil.

"The country is prepared to confront this problem when and if it arrives here. A logistics plan is being concluded. We will be ready if the disease appears anywhere in Brazil," said the minister.

Meanwhile the ministry announced that US$ 14 million had been sent to the Butantã Institute in São Paulo for the manufacture of vaccines and the creation of a strategic stockpile.

The plan includes the distribution of 500,000 CDs to doctors and healthcare personnel with information on the disease and its treatment so that proper assistance will be available (hospital beds and intensive care units, along with medicine) if they are needed.

Even without bird flu, Brazil is feeling the negative impact the disease is having on the poultry industry. Minister of Agriculture, Roberto Rodrigues, speaking at the launch of the National Plan for Prevention of Bird Flu, declared that there is no reason for Brazilians to stop eating chicken. Rodrigues pointed out that Brazil has become the world’s third biggest poultry producer and its main poultry exporter.

The minister said bird flu has had a negative impact on a growing market.

"We were calculating a 4.5% growth per year in poultry production between now and 2015. Although Brazil does not have bird flu and may even escape the disease, its presence in other parts of the world has had a negative impact on us.

"Prices have fallen as sales drop. Production is down which reduces the demand for corn and soy which is used for feed. And the domino effect is now taking away jobs. The sector employs 4 million people," said the minister.

Rodrigues praised the prevention plan saying it would increase vigilance of migrating birds and border inspection of imported poultry products.

Brazilian laboratories would also be modernized to make them more efficient in evaluating the disease and treating it if it comes. "We are meeting all the needs the situation calls for and are prepared to confront the problem," said the minister.

Agência Brasil

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