Government to hold summit over bird flu case surge

Authorities have received 98 reports of the disease, with five confirmed cases in four provinces.

Faced with new reports of bird flu cases in Argentina and across the region, government officials will hold a meeting today including Economy Minister Sergio Massa, Agriculture Secretary Juan José Bahillo and the National Healthcare and Agrifood Quality Service (SENASA)’s president and vice president, Diana Guillén and Rodolfo Acerbi.

In total, five cases have been confirmed among wild birds and birds raised on small farms – the first one in Jujuy  on February 14 and the latest in Santa Fe on February 19. The disease has also been detected in Córdoba and Salta. A total of 98 reports of the disease, yet to be confirmed,  have been filed to SENASA so far.

The spread of new cases across the region has raised alarms across Latin America. So far, cases have been confirmed in Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Uruguay, Chile and Argentina. Suspected cases of the disease, also unconfirmed, have also been reported in Paraguay and Brazil.

The Agriculture Secretariat aims to preserve Argentina’s health status by stopping bird flu from  the country’s commercial circuit. In today’s meeting, officials are set to analyze the potential deployment of new preventive actions against the disease.

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

Bird flu, also known as avian influenza, is a contagious disease caused by a virus that affects birds. It is considered an exotic disease in Argentina because no cases had been detected in the country until now. Last year’s outbreak of the virus in the United States killed more than 58 million birds, although just one person was infected nationwide.

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