Argentina detects first case of bird flu in Jujuy province

National government to work with provinces on epidemiological measures

Argentina’s National Healthcare and Agrifood Quality Service, SENASA, has confirmed that it has detected a case of bird flu near Pozuelos Lake in the north-eastern province of Jujuy, near the borders with Chile and Bolivia.

In a press conference on Wednesday afternoon, Health Ministry officials said that the illness is not transmitted to humans through the consumption of poultry and that there is no risk for those who eat it as long as it is properly cooked.

“Humans can contract bird flu through contact with the infected animals, but no human to human transmission has been detected so far in the world,” the Ministry wrote in a statement. In 19 years, between 2003 and 2022, only 868 cases of bird flu have been detected in humans worldwide, suggesting that transmission risk is very low. 

Health Access Secretary Sandra Tirado said that the national government is working with provincial governments to inform them of the epidemiologic measures they need to take if new infections are identified.

She added that washing hands is an effective prevention method to avoid transmission, as well as cooking meat properly. Individuals should speak to a doctor if flu-like symptoms appear after they have been in contact with birds showing signs of illness, she said. 

Bird flu, also known as avian influenza, is a contagious disease caused by a virus that affects birds. This is the first time cases have been detected in Argentina, which is why it is considered to be an exotic disease. Water birds are the most vulnerable. 

Last year’s outbreak of the virus in the United States killed more than 58 million birds, although just one person was infected nationwide.

In neighboring Uruguay, the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fishing confirmed the country’s first bird flu case on Wednesday.

“This is no surprise, we expected this kind of thing to happen,” said Uruguayan Minister of Agriculture Fernando Mattos in a press conference.

“We already had indications the disease has been transmitted by migratory birds to the local fauna, local birds that had contact with migratory birds and therefore with a high pathogenicity virus,” Mattos added. 

– with information from Reuters

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