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Avian influenza virus detected in alpacas in the United States

Avian influenza virus detected in alpacas in the United States

Cases of avian flu have been found in alpacas on a farm in the US Northwest, the US Department of Agriculture announced on Tuesday, as the virus continues to spread on farms in the US and two human cases have been reported there.

The National Veterinary Services Laboratories (NVSL) confirmed detection of the highly pathogenic variant of avian influenza – HPAI H5N1 – in alpacas in facilities where chickens infected with bird flu were removed in May 2024.

This is the first time the virus has been detected in alpacas, according to the press release.

Native to the Andes, this camel is raised mainly for its wool.

In recent years, the HPAI H5N1 variant has been detected in more than 50 animal species, including livestock raised in the United States since March.

About fifty herds have been infected in the country and two human infections have been reported. The two diagnosed individuals, farm workers, experienced debilitating symptoms of conjunctivitis.

Experts are concerned about the increasing number of mammals affected by the disease, although human cases are rare.

There is no evidence of human-to-human transmission at this time, but scientists fear that high circulation could facilitate the mutation of the virus, allowing it to be passed from one human to another.

The World Health Organization (WHO) expressed “grave concern” in mid-April about the spread of avian flu to new species.

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