Did sea lions in Necochea die from bird flu?
Argentinian authorities are investigating whether the deaths of around 40 sea lions at the docks of the Necochea/Quequén port were due to an outbreak of bird flu, it was reported on Tuesday. There are usually about 400 sea lions there.
Experts from the National Service for the Health and Quality of Agricultural Products (Senasa) will conduct an analysis over the next few hours to determine the cause of death after Argentina’s Naval Provincial Forces closed the area. Experts from the Marine and Coastal Institute of the National University of Mar del Plata and the National Council for Scientific and Technological Research (Conicet) also traveled to the region.
Last week, a sea lion was tested in Mar del Plata due to a series of bird flu-related symptoms reported by local aquarium professionals, but the results were negative. In contrast, the deaths of at least seven mammals in a coastal sanctuary in the Tierra del Fuego city of the Rio Grande were positively associated with the disease.
Infobae quoted marine animal rescuer Carlos Leo as saying that all the dead animals were males with abnormal nosebleeds and that the deaths were not of natural causes but frequent deaths from bird flu.
“I asked for a necropsy on the body, as it could be a case of bird flu. It has happened in the sea lion colony of the Rionegro. Considering that they reach Necochea in a few days during the migratory phase, if There are infected people, and there may be contagion in other groups.” Leo said.
The death toll over the past three days has been five times higher than last winter, when only eight people died. There have also been at least 10 deaths from the species in the last month. “It’s very strange, we have never seen anything like this. More than 50 deaths in the same period in 2022, with 8 deaths,” the expert warned.
Leo maintains that influenza infection can kill a person within 48 hours. Bird flu can cause stress problems in the animals’ brains, causing them to have headaches, red eyes, nose bleeding and tremors.
“They were like this until they were out of breath. I heard about this from neighbors who alerted me and when I arrived I saw some of these wolves shaking and having these characteristics. I request Investigate. A team of biologists from the University of Mar del Plata and Senasa is working on this,” he added.
Regarding the spread of bird flu from sea lions to humans, Leo noted that “there have been very few cases of human transmission.”
“That’s not to say it doesn’t exist, but it’s very unlikely. If you’re with your dog, it might be sniffing near an infected animal, it might be licking mucus and it might be carrying some contagion,” he continued Said.
Most sea lions found on beaches are buried in the sand to prevent gases released during decomposition from remaining airborne and becoming a hazard.