Argentina’s government has announced one billion pesos in extra funding to reinforce health and sanitary controls following the detection of at least eight cases of bird flu in several provinces.
Officials earlier this week confirmed cases of the virus in backyard chickens and ducks found dead in the town of Villa Cañás, in the south of Santa Fe Province. That followed on from the detection of cases in two dead ducks at the Las Mojarras lake in General San Martín, Córdoba Province and the first case, which was detected in Jujuy Province, close to the border with Bolivia.
This latest announcement comes less than a day after Peru’s government said that more than 700 sea lions and more than 55,000 birds had died in eight protected coastal areas after becoming infected.
The new "monetary reinforcement" includes spending on laboratory equipment, supplies, computer equipment and human resources, according to officials, with Economy Minister Sergio Massa keen to protect and defend the country’s exports.
"A single case can complicate our exports, which is why it was decided to broaden the powers of the Agriculture Secretary with regard to virtual suspensions of border entry," said Massa in a statement, who clarified that "there is no risk to the population and neither consumption nor production is being affected."
"I want to give a message to farmers: we have to face one of the worst droughts in the last hundred years, and a drop in the weight of livestock and the possibility of facing Mad Cow disease from Brazil, and avian flu, at a time when the world needs Argentine protein. The work between the government and farmers is key," said Massa.
Bird flu or avian influenza is a viral disease which affects both poultry and wild birds, and can occasionally affect exposed humans, and is caused by multiple subtypes (H5N1, H5N3, H5N8, etc.), whose genetic characteristics evolve rapidly.
The National Health Ministry on Tuesday stressed that "no sustained human-to-human transmission of avian influenza A(H5N8), A(H5N2), or A(H5N1) viruses has been reported so far in the Americas region or globally."
The portfolio also advised that although transmission to humans is considered low, people can acquire avian influenza mainly through direct contact with infected animals (live or dead) or their contaminated environments.
"Transmission of the virus to humans occurs when secretions or droppings from infected birds are inhaled or the virus enters the mouth, nose or eyes," the Health Ministry said.