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Bird flu outbreak at Albufeira National Park

Bird flu Albufeira National Park

The Ministry of Agriculture and Ecological Transition has identified an outbreak of bird flu in waterfowl at Albufeira National Park

The source of the outbreak is believed to be the common tern (Sterna hirundo). Although six individuals had contact with the infected birds, they remain in good health and show no signs of infection, according to the Ministry of Health. Due to the high transmissibility of the disease, the department, led by Isaura Navarro, has activated the poultry farm protocol, implementing stringent preventive measures.

One of the initial measures involves keeping all outdoor animals covered to prevent potential contagion. Municipalities such as Algemesí, Picassent, Sedaví, Silla, Sollana, Sueca, Torrent, Valencia, Tavernes de la Valldigna, Gandia, Sagunt, Pego, Dénia, Orihuela, Torrevieja, Santa Pola, Cabanes, Oropesa, Moncofa, La Vall d’Uixó, and Torreblanca, located near wetlands, are often mentioned in Agriculture resolutions when preventive measures for avian flu are implemented. These municipalities were mentioned in a resolution published in the Official Gazette of the Generalitat in December 2021, triggered by multiple outbreaks in Europe that raised concerns.

Biosecurity measures in poultry farms range from prohibiting free-range poultry breeding to providing water to poultry from enclosed sources inaccessible to wild birds. Protective measures are also implemented for water reservoirs located outdoors. Yesterday, sources from the Ministry of Health reported that the Avian Influenza Prevention, Early Detection, and Control Protocol for Persons Exposed to Outbreaks in Birds and Minks, from the Ministry of Health, has been activated.

PCR Testing: The General Directorate of Public Health has already reached out to the six individuals to apply the preventive measures outlined in the protocol. These measures include active surveillance of health status (temperature monitoring, symptom assessment), reduction of social interactions, and PCR testing for virus detection in the event of a hypothetical infection, among others. According to the protocol mentioned by the sources, transmission from birds to humans is a rare occurrence, as evidenced by the low number of human cases despite the numerous bird outbreaks and the likelihood of person-to-person transmission is even lower.

What is avian influenza?

Avian influenza, also known as bird flu, is a highly contagious viral disease that primarily affects birds, especially poultry. There are several strains of avian influenza viruses, and they can vary in their severity and impact on bird populations. Some strains of avian influenza have the potential to spread to humans and cause illness.

Avian influenza viruses are classified into two main types: low pathogenic avian influenza (LPAI) and highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI). LPAI viruses typically cause mild symptoms or no noticeable symptoms in birds and have a low mortality rate. On the other hand, HPAI viruses can cause severe illness and have high mortality rates in birds.

When avian influenza viruses cross the species barrier and infect humans, they can cause severe respiratory illness and, in some cases, result in death. Human infections with avian influenza viruses are relatively rare, but they can occur through close contact with infected birds or their secretions, or by exposure to contaminated environments.

It’s important to note that most avian influenza viruses do not infect humans, and the majority of human cases have been associated with direct contact with infected birds in poultry farms or live bird markets. Human-to-human transmission of avian influenza viruses is limited and typically occurs in rare cases, usually involving close and prolonged contact with an infected individual.

Due to the potential public health risks associated with avian influenza, outbreaks in poultry populations are closely monitored and controlled by veterinary and public health authorities. Strict biosecurity measures, surveillance programs, and control strategies are implemented to prevent the spread of the virus and protect both animal and human health.

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