Breakwater closed as sea lions contract bird flu

The National Agency for Agri-Food Hygiene and Quality (Senasa) has confirmed in the past few hours two cases of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5 among sea lions in Mar del Plata, therefore port authorities and the Argentine national government have restricted Access to the city’s southern breakwater.

As announced, the area will be fenced to prevent people from approaching the animals, while troop personnel have been deployed to prevent pedestrian traffic on the southern breakwater.

More than 30 sea lion deaths have been recorded so far off the coast of Mar del Plata.

Senasa advises “do not handle dead animals or animals with suspicious symptoms”.

In addition, visitors, producers, institutions, and the public are reminded that they must report if high mortality, neurological, digestive, and/or respiratory symptoms of susceptible species are found in wild birds or in commercial or backyard poultry.

It also advises “not to travel to poultry farms or wildlife habitats after exposure to dead animals or symptoms.”

In recent days, cases of avian influenza in marine mammals have been reported in different parts of the country, including Mar del Plata, Puerto Piramides (Chubut), Rio Grande, Rionegro, Necoche Asia and Punta Loyola (Santa Cruz).

In a timely statement, Senasa noted that these findings come within the framework of nationwide surveillance operations and health measures to prevent the disease after the HPAI declared a state of emergency.

Senasa reported that the detection results in marine mammals did not affect Argentina’s self-declared animal health status to the World Organization for Animal Health (WHO), which is considered free of HPAI in poultry. Avian influenza is a notifiable disease in Argentina, and anyone who observes fatal, neurological, digestive and/or respiratory symptoms in wild or domestic poultry can notify the agency.

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