Bird flu was detected at a poultry farm in northwest Belize

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BELMOPAN, Belize– The Belize Agricultural Health Authority (BAHA) has placed a poultry farm in Blue Creek Village, northwest of here, under quarantine after detecting Avian Influenza in its animals.

Avian flu, or Bird flu, is an infectious type of influenza that spreads among birds. In rare cases, it can affect humans.

BAHA said that the farm currently houses over 25 000 chickens, and containment measures are being implemented to restrict poultry products exiting the Blue Creek Community.

A BAHA statement said this is being done to ensure the poultry industry is protected against further disease introductions. Other measures include movement control of live birds, eggs, and litter.

“At this point, we have identified only one infected farm with Avian Influenza in Blue Creek. The subtype is H5. When we diagnose either H5 or H7, we implement immediate control measures to control and eradicate the disease, given influenza is a viral disease, a very infectious, contagious that could have high mortality,” said Miguel Depaz, BAHA director of Animal Health Department.

“There is some degree of mortality, but we must understand that the pathogenic of the virus can be either low or high. But, whether it is down or high, it requires immediate action by BAHA to control the disease because whet, her low or high, can negatively impact the industry.

“We do not want to allow live poultry to move out of the area. We are uncertain what the situation is at the moment, so live poultry has the highest risk of spreading the virus and other products, processed products, less risk, but we still want to put some restrictions,” he added.

Depaz said before a bird goes to the slaughterhouse, it has to test negative for Avian Influenza.

“So, we are putting measures that reduce the risk of spread. With eggs, we have to ensure we test the layers so eggs would not be contaminated. Litter tends to be moved for fertilizing purposes. So, we want to prohibit movement of poultry”.

Depaz said Avian flu is a poultry disease known to transmit to other species, including humans.

“It has that potential. H5H7 is more a poultry disease, but I must say it can be transmitted to humans, but the transmission is not through consumption; I must reiterate that and emphasize that point. You cannot get Avian Influenza by consuming poultry or consuming eggs. That is not the nature of how the virus spread.”

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