Ecuador reports bird flu in Galapagos Islands, three samples test positive

Quito, September 19 (EFE) – Three out of five samples examined in the Galapagos Islands (Ecuador) tested positive for H5N1 avian influenza, a diagnosis that will be collected in Materials were sent to the National Institute of Public Health (INSPI) for confirmation.), in the Ecuadorian city of Guayaquil.

The Galapagos National Park Service (GNPD) reported the situation on Tuesday while inspecting recently deceased birds on several islands in the Galapagos Islands.

He noted that technical teams from DPNG and the Galapagos Biosecurity and Quarantine Control and Regulation Agency (ABG) are working hard to collect samples and conduct laboratory analysis to determine the cause of the animal’s death.

The archipelago’s national environment department has activated biosecurity protocols to reduce the risk of the virus spreading.

One of the first actions was to close the visiting sites where the affected birds were found: Genoviza and Punta Piet (San Cristobal Island, the easternmost point of the archipelago), and as a precautionary measure Punta Suárez and Punta Cer Valos (Espanola Island).

In addition, tour operators were notified of enhanced disinfection procedures for footwear and clothing when embarking and disembarking to other land-based excursion locations, and continued disinfection of outdoor public areas and auxiliary vessels used for passenger disembarkation.

DPNG and ABG continue to monitor habitats and nesting areas for endemic birds such as penguins and Galapagos cormorants, and today deployed multiple teams to other parts of the archipelago to assess the situation.

Naturalist guides and tour operators are asked to increase observation and surveillance of wildlife behavior and report immediately to established emergency hotlines.

“The national ministry deeply regrets the arrival of this virus in the Galapagos,” said José Antonio Davalos, Minister of Environment, Water and Ecological Transition.

He added that they have mobilized all resources and experts to implement measures to reduce the impact on the Galapagos ecosystem, which is unique in the world.

“However, we have an urgent appeal to people: if you find sick or dead birds, do not touch them or pick them up,” he warned.

Papua New Guinea reports that a dedicated team has been arranged to collect the dead birds and conduct appropriate final disposal in accordance with the protocol to prevent the spread of the virus.

The Galapagos Islands, located about a thousand kilometers off the coast of mainland Ecuador, were declared a natural heritage of mankind by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 1978 and have unique biodiversity in the world.

Avian flu has wreaked havoc on mainland Ecuador’s poultry farms in previous months, with multiple outbreaks killing or culling at least 1.2 million birds and infecting a girl, one of the few recorded human cases in the region. one. .

So far, the virus has also been found in dead birds found off the coast of mainland Ecuador in previous months, but authorities have provided no data on the impact and impact on wildlife, when thousands of marine specimens died in Peru and Chile. the first few months.

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