Cuban zoo reports avian influenza outbreak

14-02-2023 | |
Flamingos at Zoo 26. Photo: Supplied
Flamingos at Zoo 26. Photo: Zoo 26

The National Center for Animal Health of Cuba (CENASA) has reported an outbreak of avian influenza in the region of Plaza de la Revolución in the region of Habana, the capital of the Caribbean country.

Cuban authorities have detected birds infected in a public park, the Zoo 26, and identified the H5N1 subtype. The outbreak of the virus in flamingos was communicated to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) and World Health Organization (WHO).

“Six diagnoses made by duly accredited laboratories indicates subtype of virus that circulated in the outbreak corresponds to H5N1,” said CENASA.

Due to this, the entity reported that the corresponding sanitary measures have been implemented to contain the virus, such as the quarantine and temporary closure of the zoo.


Pastor Alfonso, a CENASA specialist, described the entry of bird flu into Cuba as “a natural and inevitable process, since it is impossible to stop the flow of migratory birds on and within the Island”.

According to the official note, the cases registered only amongst exhibiting birds and only 7 detections of H5N1 virus have been reported in the world in people since 2020.

“The personnel who are working in the zoo event are kept under clinical epidemiological surveillance, complying with biosafety regulations and to date they present a good state of health,” he said.

CENASA recommend avoiding contact with dead or sick birds, and notify nearest animal health in that case. In addition, the entity highlights: “Do not touch surfaces that could be contaminated with excretions or secretions of wild, poultry or backyard birds.”

Risk for poultry production

Despite low risk for humans, the consequences of a bird flu spreading in breeding facilities could be disastrous, especially for the economy, admitted Yolanda Capdevila, an epidemiological specialist at CENASA for the government´s newspaper, Granma.

“Although in Cuba birds are not raised on a massive scale for meat consumption, it is done for egg production. If the virus spreads in a production centre, this would imply in culling all the birds in the place, whether they have symptoms or not,” she said.

Capdevila also commented that the economic losses would be very high, in addition to the fact that this would lead to an increase in the price of eggs, a product that is already expensive in the national market. Cuba has been experiencing of shortage on several products for a long time, including poultry items, due to political causes.

Cuba is not self-sufficient in poultry production because the regime controls the entire sector. Currently, they produce around 9,500 tonnes of meat, which is 92.1% less in comparison to the levels during the 1990s. Concerning eggs, the production is not enough as well and forces Cubans to fight fiercely for them.

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Daniel Azevedo Freelance journalist Brazil