Bird flu costs Belize $3 million so far

By Benjamin Flowers
Staff Reporter

This week the Ministry of Agriculture confirmed that the avian influenza outbreak detected in Spanish Lookout in January has caused some $3 million in lost revenue to Belizean poultry farmers.

Chief Executive Officer in the ministry, Jose Alpuche, explained that about 75,000 birds had tested positive for the virus, and more than 60,000 of them from 12 farms have already been destroyed. He noted that there are four farms which have yet to be purged of their infected birds.

The ministry continues to do routine testing of the birds from all farms in the area, and will continue to do so until all tests read negative.

The government of Belize does not have any plans to compensatecchicken growers for their loss, and this, Alpuche told the media,will likely impact the price of chicken in the months ahead.

The ministry through routine screening, had discovered the avian influenza (bird flu) virus on two chicken farms in Spanish Lookout. Test results indicated that the virus was the H5N2 strain, which does not cross over from animals to humans.

At the onset of the outbreak only 12,000 birds at a combined value of $600,000 had been destroyed, but as the epidemic grew more and more birds had to be sacrificed.

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