And while shrimps are dying in the South, chickens are being slaughtered in the West. In January of this year, the Belize Agricultural Health Authority, BAHA, sent out notice to the general public that they had confirmed a type of disease called Avian Influenza in a couple of farms in the Spanish Lookout community. This type of disease is a low pathogenic disease that is not killing the birds, but the virus has the capacity to evolve into a highly pathogenic disease if not controlled. In January, BAHA confirmed the disease in at least two farms, however that number grew to about 15 farms in the Spanish lookout community. As a result, BAHA, as recently as this week, began the mass slaughtering of live poultry in Spanish Lookout. BAHA’s Director of Animal Health, Dr. Miguel De Paz, gave us an update on that undertaking.
Dr. Miguel Depaz – Director of Animal Health, BAHA
‘They are implementing all the measures to control and irradiate this disease. They are many to take in which to irradiate the disease. At this time, BAHA, the Government of Belize has opted to do de-population because of the limited number of known infected farms. Should the situation change, then the strategy will also change which might include the vaccination of birds rather than depopulating, but we are yet to arrive at that position… that option.”
Emmanuel Pech – Plus TV Reporter
“At this point, can you say how many are eliminated and how many more are expected to be?”
Dr. Miguel Depaz
“An estimated number would be around sixty thousand. An estimated sixty thousand from an estimated fifteen known infected farms.”
BAHA will be conducting another survey on the remaining poultry in Spanish lookout, which will then determine if they will continue to eliminate more birds or switch to less extreme measures like vaccination, though not entirely effective. Authorities believe however, that they are at a stage where the disease has been contained.
Dr. Miguel Depaz
“At the start, we had six check points. We have reduced the six check points to four because we believe it has been contained in the Spanish Lookout community. We have movement control. The risk of spreading the disease is through wild birds and through the movement of live poultry. We know we have it in Spanish Lookout, so it’s a no -no to move out live poultry out of Spanish Lookout. However, the one day old chicks can move out of Spanish Lookout because the one day old chicks will not have the virus. The virus does not get transmitted vertically. In other words, a new born chick will not have the virus. So the only live bird moves out of the community is the day old chick.”
BAHA, also reiterated that processed chicken and eggs are safe for human consumption.