Senasa confirms bird flu in sea lion killed in Necochea

The National Service of Sanitation and Quality of Agricultural Products (Senasa) confirmed “a new outbreak of marine mammals in Buenos Aires and Santa Cruz”. These were “two sea lions from Punta Loyola and 16 sea lions from Necochea” who died from the highly pathogenic avian influenza (IAAP) H5 virus. Similarly, other samples taken from the carcasses of 40 single-haired sea lions found on the beaches of the city of Buenos Aires are “still under analysis,” official sources told Infobae.
Thus, with the confirmation of a positive case of a dead sea lion (Otaria flavescens) found in the port of Kecan, Necochea, the province of Buenos Aires detected the pathogen for the first time, as did the case in Punta Loyola. , Santa Claus.
On the other hand, a dozen sea lions have been found dead or linked to bird flu in Viedma, Rio Negro state, in the past few hours, said the Minister of Environment and Climate Change of the state of Rio Negro. symptoms of the virus. municipal government. Senasa told Infobae that the cause of these deaths is still being studied. The Rio Negro Undersecretary for Environment and Climate Change, Fabián Llanos, told Telam news agency that restrictions were imposed on the beaches of Punta Bermeja as a precautionary measure.
In recent days, about 4 dead specimens have also been found on the breakwater south of Mar del Plata. The people had been dead for days, so it was not possible to determine whether their deaths were caused by the virus, according to the state entity. Meanwhile, local media said the municipality of Tres Arroyos had reported 24 hours earlier that four sea lion carcasses had been found in the town of Balneario Orense.
“To date, four notifications for sea lions have been processed: the first two were negative; the third was found in the Antarctic province of Tierra del Fuego and the Rio Grande in the South Atlantic Islands, a first for this species positive cases; the fourth was recently confirmed a few days ago in the Rio Negro, Punta Bermeja Natural Reserve,” they said in a statement from Senasa.
The mammal deaths came after officials reported on Aug. 16 the presence of the virus in a dead sea lion found off the coast of Rio Negro province. The specimen was found in the Punta Bermejara Loberia Nature Reserve.
Five days earlier, on 11 August, Senasa reported that seven of the 21 sea lions of its kind that died in Rio Grande, Tierra del Fuego, were infected.
The fury sea lion, whose scientific name is Otaria flavescens, lives along the coast of South America. Especially in the Argentine Sea there are numerous colonies. Authorities estimate that infection in these animals occurred through direct contact with secretions from infected birds. Humans can also get the virus, but so far the number of cases in the world is low.
Likewise, Senasa stressed that, given the suspicions in these cases, they held meetings with municipal, provincial and national institutions to communicate the intervention options in such cases. In addition, national entities have pledged to develop and coordinate health strategies and actions to control outbreaks and provide information.
Speaking to Infobae, official sources cautioned that they still don’t know how the sea lion contagion occurred. “Presumably, they may have come into contact with infected birds by consuming infected birds as food,” they said.
Also in Tierra del Fuego, the death of 21 sea lions was reported and at least seven were confirmed to be infected with bird flu, prompting the provincial government to put up posters to prevent people from entering the coastal sanctuary in the city of Rio Grande. According to Senasa Resolution 153/2021, the avian influenza virus is highly contagious in Argentina and should be notified. Anyone who observes death, neurological, digestive and/or respiratory symptoms in wild or poultry can notify the agency.
This is a disease that affects wild birds and poultry. Argentina lost its title of “bird flu-free” after its first endemic outbreak in February last year. The first case was confirmed on 15 February in an Andean goose in the province of Jujuy, and authorities immediately declared a health emergency.
In early August, 18 commercial establishments registered in the country had detected outbreaks, the last of which had been closed. Senasa has since submitted this document with a self-declaration to the World Organization for Animal Health (OMSA), supporting and maintaining Argentina’s status as a poultry disease-free country. The cases registered a few days ago in the Rionegro and Tierra del Fuego were mammals and not poultry. Therefore, the classification of “free” is still maintained.
The last positive sample of avian influenza occurred in so-called backyard or poultry, ie chickens, ducks, geese, domestic and non-commercially produced turkeys, on 4 August from the town of Santiago del Pinto. Estero. Despite the restoration of state in Argentina, the state of health emergency remains in effect through a nationwide epidemiological surveillance and prevention mandate.
Migratory birds can carry the virus, although they are sometimes asymptomatic. In other cases, they may also get sick. Transmission of the virus from wild birds can occur if they come into contact with large numbers of poultry that are kept in close quarters, such as hens or chicks. Last February, OMSA reported that more than 100 million poultry birds had died or been culled due to the virus.
On July 12, the World Health Organization and OMSA issued another bird flu risk alert. They note that the current outbreaks have “wreaked havoc on animal populations, including poultry, wild birds, and some mammals, and have harmed farmers’ livelihoods and the food trade.” Although animals have been greatly affected, “the impact of these outbreaks The outbreak poses an ongoing risk to humanity.”
Senasa states that it “advises not to handle dead animals or animals with suspicious symptoms. Likewise, producers, institutions and the public are reminded that if a susceptible species is found to have high mortality, neurological, digestive and and/or respiratory symptoms must be notified”. “It is also advised not to travel to poultry farms or wildlife colonies and not to handle them after exposure to dead animals or symptoms,” they concluded.

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