Argentina has been in a health emergency for almost a week due to the detection of birds infected with bird flu. Until this Tuesday, the health authorities have detected at least eight cases in the north of the country and have reinforced controls to prevent infections from advancing on farms that produce meat and eggs. All the infections detected so far are in wild or domestic birds, but the Argentine government is concerned about a possible spread of the disease in an industry that represents more than 350 million dollars in exports a year, as announced by the Ministry of Economy.
“A single case in the production process automatically puts us in the process of suspending these exports,” said the minister, Sergio Massa, during the announcement of new measures. The Government will reinforce sanitary control at border crossings and will rake the natural areas where wild birds are concentrated.
The concern is great because the avian flu is spreading through South America. In Bolivia, whose border with northern Argentina is very active, the virus was detected in early February and more than 140,000 birds have already been slaughtered on farms that produced food. Uruguay has also detected cases and both Paraguay and Brazil are awaiting confirmations. The transfer of the disease from birds to humans is rare and it cannot be spread by eating meat or eggs, but the recent behavior of the virus worries the scientific community: both Peru and Chile have registered deaths of sea lions that were infected. of the virus by eating infected bird carcasses. Researchers fear that the mass deaths mean the virus may start to spread between mammals.
Argentina has not yet confirmed that the contagion has jumped to poultry production farms, and the Government has asked producers to suspect contagion and report it without fear that their production will be affected. “We are going to financially compensate the replacement of these birds because we want to transmit peace of mind and also so that those families who see affected birds with symptoms or diagnosis are not afraid to communicate or disseminate,” said the Minister of Agriculture, Juan José Bahillo. So far, the health authorities have received 98 notifications of possible infections, among which eight were detected in the provinces of Córdoba, Santa Fe, Salta and Jujuy.
The country is the eighth in the world with the highest poultry production, according to the latest annual report of the Ministry of Agriculture. According to government data, 97% of its production is for domestic consumption and the remaining 3% is exported to more than 56 countries. Poultry production involves more than 100 small and medium-sized companies and employs almost 70,000 people throughout the country. These producers have been the focus of government announcements at a fragile time for all sectors that produce food: the government needs those dollars to curb inflation that is approaching 100% year-on-year and producers are facing the worst droughts in decades.
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