The Ministry of Health in Chile has reported that it has detected its first case of avian influenza, also known as bird flu, in a human.

The case relates to a 53-year-old man in the northern part of the country, who is very sick with influenza and has been identified as having the H5N1 strain of bird flu.

According to the ministry, health protocols established for the management of the disease were activated and the corresponding tests were taken for analysis by the Institute of Public Health (ISP), which confirmed that it is bird flu.

The source of contact is now being investigated by epidemiology teams which were deployed on the ground to investigate the source of the contagion, and whether or not there are other potential cases or past cases in the patient’s local area and environment.

Bird flu

The Minister for Health in Chile, Ximena Aguilera, has reinforced the need for the public and poultry farmers to ensure they act to curb the spread of the illness.

The Secretary of State in Chile said the affected man has been hopitalised and is in a stable condition.

In a statement [translated), the health minister said: “At this moment, the epidemiology teams are deployed on the ground to investigate the source of infection.”

She said the bird flu virus is transmitted by contact with sick animals and that they have normally died as a result of this disease.

“It has also affected marine mammals such as sea lions, which are sometimes found by people on the beach, more and more frequently throughout the continent,” she added.

Authorities in Chile have stressed the importance of reinforcing prevention measures in the case of finding dead birds or marine animals.

They have urged people to avoid approaching them and calling the telephone numbers of the services related to the issue.

“At the present time, there is no person-to-person transmission of this avian influenza picture, therefore the risk to humans is restricted to those people who are in contact with sick animals,” the Ministry for Health stated.

“However, people who are infected or infected, they can have a serious condition, which is why it is important to have the systems alerted as we have had and that has effectively led to the detection of this condition in this person and which is expected to be of a rather sporadic presentation.”