Chilean health authorities Wednesday confirmed the first case of a human patient suffering from avian flu. It is a 53-year-old man from the city of Arica in the northern part of the country, who has been reported to be stable.
”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 is avian influenza, Chile's Health Ministry said in a statement.
The agency also called on the people not to handle sick or dead birds or mammals and urged poultry workers to follow the corresponding safety protocols and to be vaccinated against seasonal influenza.”
Experts are now trying to determine the source of contact and whether there is a history of others affected in the patient's milieu.
The first case of bird flu in animals in Chile was reported on March 14, in an industrial poultry farm. Chile had already detected the virus in wild birds, sea lions, and otters in 13 of the country's 16 regions since December 2022. Last week, Chile's Agriculture and Livestock Service reported the detection of a case of avian influenza in an industrial plant in southern Chile, which implied the culling of nearly 50,000 birds.
The H5N1 virus can be transmitted from birds or marine mammals to humans and can cause symptoms such as cough, fever above 38°C, and diarrhea, among others.
Early last month, the World Health Organization (WHO) called for vigilance due to the risk of transmission of avian flu to mammals after detecting cases in foxes, otters, and sea lions.
According to the WHO, bird flu avian mainly affects domestic poultry and is considered highly deadly. Although it is an animal disease, transmission to humans who have contact with sick birds is possible. The first case of avian influenza virus reported in Latin America was recorded in Ecuador in January of this year, in a 9-year-old girl living in a rural area of the province of Bolivar.