The Belize Agricultural Health Authority, BAHA is lifting the quarantine from the poultry industry in the Cayo District. This is after a low patogenic disease known as H1N1 infected thousands of birds causing farms and the industry millions. Emanuel Pech reports
Dr Miguel Depaz: From when we detected the disease to now today September, 9th today is the day we will be lifting the quarantine and during that time we also did what we call active surveillance. Active surveillance means, the officers – the field officers are out there looking for the virus they go from farm to farm searching for the virus, it means taking blood samples from a representative number of birds from a flock and take that blood sample to the laboratory and the laboratory will do diagnose and determine whether the virus is there or not. So we have been doing that for the last three months post the last known infected form, the last known infected form was June 5th, 2015. That farm finished cleaning and disinfecting June 9th. The International standards have it that you must continue surveillance three months after that last cleaning and disinfection and that’s where we are right now, September 9th and its time to lift up those control measures because we know for a fact that the virus is no longer circulating in Spanish Lookout.
Dr Miguel Depaz:It doesn’t mean that we must not remain vigilant. Even influenza has recently affected the United States. Twenty two of the of the Fifty Two States – United States has lost millions and millions of dollars. So there is an existing threat and not only from the United States with the migratory birds coming down to this area later this year but also because Guatemala has the disease, other central American countries do have the disease – so there is an existent threat because of trade, because of migratory birds, because of poor biosecurity. So BAHA has to maintain to be vigilant and therefore we will continue testing the birds and moreover we have been working with the farmers on how they can better implement measures to prevent the infection from getting reintroduced into Spanish Lookout, for example, if we assume that this virus came because of the trade of spent hens then we are working with the farmers to develop a trading center where whenever you have somebody that wants to come buy live bird, they would come to one center instead of going to all the farms.
BAHA encourages farmers across the country, whether commercial or backyard, to maintain their bio security measures and also wishes to reassure the public that poultry meat and eggs are safe to consume.