Sea lions infected with bird flu: They vouch for this level of infection ‘never seen before’ | Very concerned about the number of animals affected

he infect of Hundreds of “one-haired sea lions” infected with bird flu from exposure to infected migratory birds Alerted authorities and experts, warning “The risk of transmission to humans is low”Although they state that “Never seen before” such a degree of affectation to this species because it is a “highly pathogenic” variant of the virus.

it’s about first case Registered in Argentina, where Bird flu spreads from birds to mammalsespecially the South American sea lion (Otaria flavescens).

Since mid-August, More than a hundred specimens were found dead Tierra del Fuego, Santa Cruz, Chubut (Peninsula Valdes), Rionegro and the Buenos Aires towns of Mar del Plata, Necochea, Monte Hermoso, Vilague Searle, Colonel Rosales, and more cases of Villarino are under investigation.

Juan Lorenzani, president of the Argentinian Animals Foundation, explained: “We are facing a very aggressive virus, where the animals quickly infect each other and immediately show the first symptoms, mostly Trembling, then maybe twitching.”

“I’ve worked with sea lions for many years and I’ve never seen anything like this. This 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.

expert explained Bird flu began to appear in sea lions last February in Peru and ChileThey had to issue a “health alert” due to the large number of sea lions infected.

In mammals that “lack sufficient defenses against such diseases,” The virus can cause severe muscular, nervous and respiratory effectsThis was “seen in the convulsions and disorienting movements recorded in the infected samples,” Lorenzani explained.

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 ‚Äč‚ÄčLagunas de Pozuelos in the province of Jujuy.

“Because of its great versatility and adaptability, Influenza develops multiple 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,” said Ali, a veterinarian who specializes in avian viruses. Ariel Vagnozzi said.

“They are viruses that can seriously injure animals, The mortality rate can reach almost 100%, which poses a great threat to agricultural production“Added the expert, head of the Bird Laboratory of the INTA Institute of Virology.

While its spread from birds to mammals may pose a “greater risk of contagion” to humans, experts agree it’s “rare.” “The risk is always there, but the probability is low, and because of the nature of the genes, it’s rare. Furthermore, When a virus jumps from a bird to a human, the human may not transmit it to another human unless the virus undergoes some adaptationVagnozzi said.

According to the National Agri-Food Hygiene and Quality Service (Senasa), the “relatively small number” of recorded cases of human transmission worldwide is equivalent to illness in people in close and prolonged contact with animals.

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. There is no doubt that today’s viruses have adapted to sea lions, which is why we are 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.

Authorities in all affected coastal areas of the country are therefore asking people not to go to beaches where dead sea lions are found, and especially not to bring pets such as dogs with them, as this could end up killing people. Exposure to the virus through infected sea lions or birds.

They also remind producers, institutions, and the public that notification must be made if high mortality, neurological, digestive, and/or respiratory symptoms of susceptible species are found in wild birds or in commercial or backyard poultry.

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