Belize strengthens its National Alert to maintain Free Status Print E-mail
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Written by Administrator   
Thursday, 24 January 2013 00:00

This follows Mexico officially reporting that highly pathogenic H7N3 Avian Influenza had occurred in another state, Aguascalientes, which borders the state of Jalisco which was previously infected. Belize, like Mexico, cannot let its guard down and must strengthen its preparedness and response plan to ensure that adequate prevention measures are in place and that its early detection and prompt response system is highly functional.

Thus, prevention measures have been stepped up along the northern border, with BAHA Quarantine on alert and poultry producers being requested to maintain strong biosecurity measures. The importation of poultry and poultry products from Mexico is prohibited as this can lead to the introduction and spread of the disease thus affecting our poultry industry.

Consumers are reminded that poultry products are safe for human consumption. The disease rarely affects humans and requires direct contact with sick birds. In humans, the disease causes conjunctivitis and mild flu symptoms.

The new outbreak in Aquascalientes, Mexico started on the 3rd January 2013 in layer birds with another outbreak being detected on the 5th January 2013 in the same state. The sick birds showed signs of sudden death, swollen and blue heads, twisted necks and drop in egg production.

Given the experience with the Jalisco outbreaks where the last outbreak occurred in September 2012, Mexican authorities were able to quickly control the two new outbreaks. Control measures included total depopulation of affected farms and vaccination of birds in the state.

This new outbreak in another state in Mexico shows that as a country bordering Mexico we cannot afford to let our guard down. The Ministry of Natural Resources and Agriculture and BAHA are working closely with the Belize Poultry Association and OIRSA to harmonize and operationalize Avian Influenza prevention measures in Belize.

The Belizean public can assist to maintain Belize Avian Influenza free by practicing good biosecurity at their farms, promptly reporting signs of illness in their birds and by not introducing contraband birds and poultry products into Belize.