“Never seen before” this level of affectation

The first symptom is usually tremors, which can then turn into convulsions Photo Diego Izquierdo
The first symptom is usually tremors, which can then turn into seizures / Photo: Diego Izquierdo.

Hundreds of ‘sea lions’ contracted bird flu from contact with infected migratory birds Authorities and experts sound the alarm warned “The risk of transmission to humans is low”although they note that such a severe impact on this species “has never been seen before” because it is “Highly pathogenic” virus variants.

This is the first case of bird flu transmission from birds to mammals, specifically South American sea lions (Otaria flavescens), recorded in Argentina.

Since mid-August, More than a hundred bodies found in Fuego, Santa Cruz, Chubut provinces (Valdes Peninsula), black river and the towns of Buenos Aires Mar del Plata, Necochea, Monte Hermoso, Villagesell, Colonel Rosales Villarino has more cases under investigation.

“We are faced with a very aggressive strainThe animals quickly infect each other and immediately show the first symptoms, which are mostly shivering, which may progress to convulsions. ” Juan Lorenzani, president of the Argentine Animals Foundation.

“I have worked with sea lions for many years and have never seen anything like this. It is very sad because they cannot be quarantined or vaccinated. We are facing a new fact of nature that unfortunately remains to be understood‘ he added in a conversation with Tyram.

The expert explained that in February last year Peru and Chile had to issue a “health alert” due to the large number of sea lions infected with bird flu that began to appear in sea lions.

Juan Lorenzani, president of the Argentine foundation, explained that last February, Peru and Chile had to issue a “health alert” because of the high number of infections.

exist The mammal “lacks adequate defenses against such diseases”Lorenzani explained that the virus causes severe muscular, neurological and respiratory effects, which can be seen in “convulsions and disorienting movements recorded in infected samples.”

The H5N1 variant of virus A present in sea lions is a subtype of highly pathogenic avian influenza that was first documented in wild South American birds in Peru in late 2022.

In Argentina, the first bird case occurred in February 2023 in the natural area of ​​Lagunas de Pozuelos in the province of Jujuy.

“Because of its great versatility and adaptability, Influenza acquires many subtypes. The H5N1 variant was first identified in birds in 1996, and its specificity persisted over time and began to incorporate genetic changes and spread on a large scale around the world,” he said. Ariel Vagnozzi, a veterinarian specializing in avian viruses.

“They are Ability to severely injure animals, with mortality rates of almost 100%“This poses a very big threat to agricultural production.” The head of the Bird Laboratory of the INTA Institute of Virology added.

While its spread from birds to mammals may pose a “greater risk of contagion” to humans, experts agree it’s “rare.”

What the authorities want and where to complain

Authorities in all affected coastal areas ask people not to go to the beach Among them appeared lifeless sea lions,especially don’t do this to pets Such as dogs to avoid contact with infected animals.

They also remind producers, institutions and the public to Notify if high mortality, neurological, digestive and/or respiratory symptoms are observed in susceptible species Wild birds or commercial or backyard domestic birds.

this Notices and complaints can be made at the Senasa office closest, calling Tel (011) 5700 5704; pass App “Senasa Notifications”available on the Play Store; write to Email notifications@senasa.gob.aror through the “Notify Senasa” section of the agency’s website.

“There is always a risk, but the probability is low, and because of the nature of the genes, it’s rare. Also, when a virus jumps from a bird to a human, the latter probably won’t transmit it to another human unless The virus suffers from some “adaptation,” Vagnozzi said.

According to reports National Produce Health and Quality Service (Senasa)The “relatively small” number of recorded cases of human transmission in the world corresponds to people who have been in close contact with sick animals for a long time.

So far, no human-to-human transmission has been confirmed.

“It doesn’t spread easily or frequently from one species to another, and when it does, it’s hard to adapt,” Vagnozzi said, adding, “If it adapts, that’s another issue.” Now, that’s the problem.” It’s happened to sea lions as well. Today, the virus has undoubtedly adapted to sea lions, which is why we’re seeing this mortality rate. “

H5N1 viruses are transmitted by oral and respiratory routes and eliminated through secretions (saliva or mucus) and excretions (urine, feces) and can survive in the environment for a limited period of time that varies according to daily temperature fluctuations, humidity, solar radiation and wind.

“The only way humans can be contagious is through direct contact with animals, so we ask people to take this issue seriously and take a responsibility not to approach animals coming out of the sea, whether they are alive or dead,” they stressed.

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