General / Health / Weekend News

BAHA lifts alert for Avian Influenza in Cayo districtn

By Benjamin Flowers, Staff Reporter

The Belize Agricultural Health Authority (BAHA) lifted the alert for Avian Influenza (Bird Flu) in the Cayo district on Wednesday.

According to World Health Organization standards BAHA can declare the area once again free of avian influenza three months after decontamination.

BAHA said in a release the same day, said that the last case was detected on June 5, 2015 and depopulation and decontamination of farms found to have infected birds were completed by June 9, 2015.

The International and Regional Agricultural Organization (OIRSA for its name in Spanish) along with the government of Mexico gave the Department of Agriculture and the Belize Poultry Association resource and technical assistance to help eradicate the outbreak.

In January the Ministry of Agriculture, through its routine testing activities detected antibodies for a low pathogenic strain of the H5N2 avian influenza virus in chickens on a farm in Cayo.

Subsequent checks revealed that birds in 16 farms in the Spanish Lookout area were infected.

Although unconfirmed, the ministry suspected that either migratory birds or infected birds brought into the country from Mexico and Guatemala was responsible for the outbreak. At the onset of the outbreak, only 12,000 birds, at a combined value of $600,000 had been destroyed. 

The ministry confirmed that that number was over 600,000 birds.

Dr. Miguel DePaz, BAHA’s chief veterinary officer explained that the possibility of the virus crossing over and infecting humans was extremely remote, noting that he had never heard of or read anything about H5N2 actually making the cross over.

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