Argentina: 1st avian flu H5 detection reported in a wild bird at Pozuelos lagoon


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The National Agrifood Health and Quality Service (SENASA) reported the country’s first detection of H5 avian influenza (AI) in wild birds at Lake Pozuelos, northwest of Jujuy Province, near the border with Bolivia.

Photo/Robert Herrmann

Currently, the disease is not transmitted to people through the consumption of poultry meat and its derivatives. So there is no danger in eating these foods. In addition, it should be noted that the risk of transmission to humans is low.

Avian influenza (AI) is a viral disease that affects both poultry and wild birds, and can occasionally affect susceptible people, due to multiple subtypes (H5N1, H5N3, H5N8, etc.) whose genetic characteristics are rapidly evolving.

People can become infected with avian influenza mainly through direct contact with infected animals (live or dead) or their contaminated environments. Transmission of the virus to humans occurs when inhaling the secretions or droppings of infected birds, or the virus enters the mouth, nose, or eyes. In contrast, wild waterfowl are an important reservoir for influenza A viruses, and poultry populations can become infected through contact with wild birds.

To date, no sustained human-to-human transmission of avian influenza A (H5N8), A (H5N2), or A (H5N1) has been reported either in the Americas region or globally. In the 19 years, from 2003 to 2022, there have been 868 reported cases of avian influenza among humans worldwide.

The Minister for Access to Health, Sandra Tirado, highlighted the enduring joint work they are developing with the Minister of Agriculture, SENASA, the Department of Security and the Department of Environment and Sustainable Development. In this context, the official indicated that she had also contacted the health teams in all governorates, and an epidemiological bulletin was exchanged to alert about suspected or compatible cases of this disease.

On the other hand, Tirado explained that the possibility of transmission of the virus from a sick bird to a person is very low, and it also brought peace of mind to the population regarding the consumption of poultry meat or its derivatives. He said, “The transmission of this type of influenza in the digestive system has not been recorded yet.”

Finally, the Minister of Access to Health indicated the most important procedures that must be observed in the event of any infectious disease, such as washing hands frequently. “You should also consider proper cooking of food and consult a doctor before any symptoms appear if you have any direct contact with birds as a history,” she said.

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