Argentina has confirmed its first case of bird flu in an industrial chicken farm, its agriculture secretary said on Tuesday, causing the country to halt the export of chicken meat products.
The case was detected in the southern province of Rio Negro, secretary Juan Jose Bahillo said on Twitter. “The suspension of exports responds to the requirements of international regulations,” he added.
Since mid-February, around 25 cases have been confirmed in Argentina, mostly in wild birds. Chicken farmers have voiced concern over the new bird flu outbreak and fear catastrophic effects on the chicken food sector.
“Bird flu greatly worries me because more cases are reported daily in nearby areas such as Santa Fe and Jujuy. Birds transmit bird flu. We fear a sick bird might arrive in our shed, complicating the situation,” chicken farmer Carlos Rodriguez said.
As a measure to keep bird flu away from his farm, Rodriguez said the shed where the chickens live is completely sealed, which means the animals don’t get any fresh air.
The export of chicken meat products generates over $350 million annually for Argentina.
Europe and the United States have experienced their worst bird flu outbreaks, leading authorities to kill over 100 million turkeys, ducks, chickens and other birds: 52 million in Europe and 50 million in the US. After the animals are killed, their bodies are either buried or burned.
The virus has also been detected in South American countries in recent months. In Peru, over 700 sea lions died from bird flu. “Avian influenza in birds has been identified as spreading to populations of sea lions,” the National Service of Natural Areas Protected by the State (Sernanp) said.
A week ago, an 11-year-old girl died in Cambodia after she was infected with bird flu. Her father, who had been showing symptoms, also tested positive for the virus.