laboratory Senasa Diagnosed this Thursday sea lion death happened at Necocia (Buenos Aires) and port loola (Santa Cruz) due “New cases of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5”“Migratory birds from the northern hemisphere,” said Ximena Melón, the organization’s country director.
The National Laboratory of the National Food Hygiene and Quality Service (Senasa) diagnosed “new positive samples of the disease from sea lions (Otaria flavescens) found dead in Puerto Quiquen, Necochea and Loyola,” Informed via press release.
“This is the same subtype of the virus that is circulating in Argentina, it is highly pathogenic, and birds are the most affected species,” Melón, Senasa’s national animal health director, told Télam.
“We hadn’t had the disease before, it was acquired in February this year through migratory birds from the northern hemisphere. There were many cases in all the countries in Central America, and it ended up reaching Argentina, Chile and Bolivia.”
So far, four notifications about sea lions have been processed: the first two were negative; the third was found in Antarctica’s Tierra del Fuego and the Rio Grande in the South Atlantic Islands, the first positive case for this species the fourth was confirmed a few days ago in the Rio Negro Punta Bermeja Nature Reserve.
They collected other sea lion samples yesterday in Mar del Plata, Buenos Aires, and today in Puerto San Julian, Santa Cruz.
Samples from the last two locations are not yet available as the study will take approximately 48 hours.
Necochea’s southern seawall is closed due to confirmed deaths of local pinniped populations from highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI).
The hypothesis of the agency responsible for animal health is that “sea lions contracted the disease from sick wild birds” that shed the virus in their feces.
“In sea lion habitats, there’s a lot of contact between seabirds and between marine mammals, and there’s droppings all over the place”Melon pointed out.
Although there have been no reports of the virus spreading among marine mammals globally, experts insist, “This is a matter of investigation and we are working with other countries that have made the same discovery to try to Identifying Mutations in Viruses Spreading Between Mammals“.
When asked about sea lions jumping to humans, Mellon dismissed the possibility, assuring that “the small number of cases of bird flu that have occurred worldwide have been linked to close and direct contact between sick birds.”
However, the Director of Environmental Health said personnel, rescue workers or wildlife workers are being monitored and may have come into contact with sick sea lions to verify that they are not showing signs of contagion and that “in none of the cases were infected individuals identified. “So far.
The Senasa laboratory in Necochea said in a statement that as soon as the situation became known a few days ago, “the Municipality of Necochea, under the leadership of Arturo Rojas, organized an interdisciplinary , which includes researchers from different fields. With the involvement of the commune, the Union of the Management of the Port of Kercan and the Union of the Management of the Argentine Naval Province, which has a seat in Puerto Kercan, in clear cooperation with the responsible official bodies, to provide the public with scientific, clear and accurate information”.
This action has given rise to different measures aimed at controlling the health condition, such as taking samples from animals found to determine the cause of death.
All these findings and results were carried out within the framework of surveillance actions and health measures implemented nationwide to prevent the disease, which Senasa detailed.
They added, “During the sampling programme, burial sites of suspected dead animals were identified together with local authorities to avoid any type of contamination or contagion from other animals or people.”
In this sense, Mellon emphasizes the immediate steps taken at the first sign of bird flu suspicions: “Within 24 hours of notification, Senasa inspected the site and took samples. Avoid polluting the environment and birds that may come into contact with dead animals, affected beaches or habitats were closed at the time to avoid contact with people.”
For the general population, “it is recommended to avoid contact with birds, animals that appear sick and dead, or wild birds or marine mammals found on beaches,” he said.
Likewise, they remind producers, institutions, and the public that they must report if high mortality, neurological, digestive, and/or respiratory symptoms in susceptible species are found in wild birds or in commercial or backyard poultry.
Télam asked whether such diseases in marine mammals would affect animal health, which the agency assured would not happen and that Argentina “is considered a country free of HPAI in domestic poultry.”