Chile reported on Wednesday, March 29, its first case of bird flu between humanslocated in the north of the country, after detecting positive cases in animals in 13 of the 16 regions of the country.
“The sick person corresponds to a 53-year-old man affected by severe influenza. The patient is stable within its severity”The Ministry of Health said in a statement.
The institution added that the source of the contact is being investigated and whether there are others affected who were close to the patient.
He H5N1 virus about “bird flu” It is a virus that can be transmitted from birds or marine mammals to humans, and can cause symptoms such as cough, fever above 38°C, diarrhea, among others.
“The sanitary protocols established for the management of this disease were activated and the corresponding tests were taken for analysis by the Institute of Public Health (ISP), which confirmed that it’s avian influenza“, says the statement released by the Ministry of Health.
By virtue of the foregoing, the Health portfolio advised citizens “do not handle sick or dead birds or mammals and urges poultry workers to follow safety protocols and get vaccinated against seasonal influenza.
The World Health Organization (WHO) At the beginning of February, it called for vigilance in view of the risk of transmission of bird flu to mammals after detecting cases in foxes, otters and sea lions.
Chile it had already detected the virus in wild birds, sea lions and otters in 13 of the 16 regions that make up the country since December 2022. The first case was reported in the city of Arica (border with Peru).
Last week, the Agricultural and Livestock Service of Chile reported the detection of a case of bird flu at an industrial facility in the south of Chilewhich implied the sacrifice of about 50,000 birds.
Avian flu: the recommendations of the Ministry of Health to avoid catching it
The evolution of bird flu in the world
The world has been experiencing one of the worst avian flu outbreaks since 2021, infecting or killing more than 200 million birds around the world and thousands of mammalsincluding mink in Spain, seals in the United States, lions and sea lions in Peru, and dolphins in the United Kingdom.
The virus also infected mammals, such as foxes and brown bears, probably from feeding on sick birds. Epidemiologists see contagion from mammals as a warning sign to intensify surveillance of the virus rather than a sign of a new pandemic.
Since the first cases were reported in October 2022 in Latin America, numerous countries have reported sick animals, including Mexico, Honduras, Guatemala, Panama, Cuba, Ecuador, Peru, Venezuela, Bolivia, Chile, Uruguay, and Argentina.
In Peru, the most affected bird species were boobies, pelicans and guanayes, followed by tendrils, Dominican gulls, Peruvian gulls and gray gulls.
The disease arrived in the region through migratory birds and it spread inexorably from north to south and from west to east and the outbreak caused deaths in wild birds but also in sea lions and spread to backyard birds (for family consumption) and poultry.
In Argentina, since the first case was reported on a farm in early March, the export of poultry products has been suspended, although without affecting the domestic market since the disease is not transmitted to humans through consumption of chicken meat or eggs. Some 240,000 chickens died or were culled on farms.
Although epidemiologists believe that the mutation of bird flu to humans is difficult, “it is highly plausible that a virus capable of being transmitted from mink to mink is capable of being transmitted from human to human”alerted Michelle Willan expert in wild bird virus dynamics at the University of Sydney.
In early March, an 11-year-old girl died while her father tested positive for H5N1 in Cambodia, although the country’s health authorities said there was no human-to-human transmission of bird flu in the case.
The World Health Organization (WHO) expressed fear of a possible transmission between humans, but since 2021 so far only about half a dozen cases have been reported in people who had close contact with infected birds, and most of them were mild illnesses.
Humans rarely contract bird flu, but when they do, it is usually through direct contact with infected birds. In the last two decades there have been almost 900 confirmed cases of H5N1 (contagious strain of bird flu) in humans with 457 deaths, 53 percent of people diagnosed.
The strain currently rampaging through bird populations did not evolve to infect humans, but it began to spread at an unprecedented rate in mammals after causing record deaths in birds. This increases the chance that the strain will acquire dangerous mutations.
WHO Director General Tedros Ghebreyesus warned in February: “Since H5N1 first appeared in 1996, we have only seen rare, non-sustained transmission of H5N1 to and between humansbut we cannot assume that this will continue to be the case and we must prepare for any change in the status quo.”
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