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Joined: Oct 1999
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Marty Offline OP
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Belize's northern districts are still rebounding from a bout of Avian Flu that was reported in the middle of September.

That Flu now seems to have been contained after a bird depopulation and some new measures to avoid a repeat incident.

We got the update from Minister of Agriculture Jose Mai earlier today.

Jose Mai, Minister of Agriculture
"Well after the index farms were detected as I'll refer to them, we did the necessary, um, depopulation and further testing. Up until now we have had no more positive cases of avian influenza so that is where we are right now. Those farms are being cleaned out and other measures taken. The bio-safety measures so seem to have been working well, we have no further infections. No further incidences of the disease so far. The good thing about the agriculture sector in Belize is that we are self-sufficient in poultry products, um, in 2016 when they had this disease in Spanish lookout there was a larger amount of birds that had to. Be de-populated but the northern districts, Corozal and Orange Walk had picked up the slack and there was never a shortage of poultry. The same has happened here. While we had less depopulation the other producers in Spanish lookout, little Belize picked up the slack and there is no shortage of poultry at this time."

And Mai says that one measure to attempt to eradicate the Avian Flu moving forward will be the testing one day old chicks.

Channel 7

Joined: Oct 1999
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Marty Offline OP
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Belize Free of Avian Influenza

One month after it was dented in Blue Creek and Shipyard, Belize is "completely free of the avian influenza virus." That's according to today's Cabinet brief which says that all tests conducted by Belize Agricultural Health Authority have come back negative. The Ministry of Agriculture attributes this to the quick response by government and poultry producers to arrest the outbreak before it spread. This required the slaughter of about 30 thousand possibly contaminated chickens which amounted to significant losses for the industry.
Quarantine measures have officially been discontinued.

Channel 7

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Marty Offline OP
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30K Birds Slaughtered; 100k Lost, But There Was No Avian Influenza

The report of Avian Influenza being confirmed in Belize burst into the news on 13th September - and within days - tens of thousands of birds had been slaughtered, and suspected farms in Blue Creek Orange Walk were quarantined.

In three weeks, the influenza was reported to have been contained - but what if it was never even really here at all? Turns out that the influenza that was confirmed never really happened at all...

The ultimate authority on animal diseases - which is the The National Veterinary Services Laboratories in Iowa, USA has sent confirmation back to Belize saying that all the samples which ent out from BAHA were NEGATIVE. Turns out, the tests done locally were false positives - which happens, but rarely with such costly consequences.

It's one heck of a curveball - but the General Manager of the Poultry Association told us via Zoom that he's relieved:

Armando Cowo - Manager, Belize Poultry Association
"I felt good. I was vindicated, because I was the only one telling everyone hold on let us wait for confirmation from NVSL, but in end people were saying well we need to do things, because what if it is a true positive and they have a point, because it would have spread. Given the supply chain disruptions due to the pandemic and short of staff in their labs and so on, you're taking longer than normal to have those results out. But at the end of the day whatever was done was worth the while. We're not saying it was not worth the while. I mean we had to take action at some point in time and we sat down and we brainstorm and we said well we are going to take these actions. Those actions were not taken in isolation, we all sat down and we all agree to it."

Jules Vasquez
"Should a greater degree of moderation have been exercise by the relevant authorities, because its such a big industry, it's like shouting fire in a crowded room when you say Avian Influenza."

Armando Cowo - Manager, Belize Poultry Association
"There is nothing wrong to err on the side of caution. It could have gone either way. Had we had it and we were waiting then what would have been the hit? we were walking a very thin line there."

And walking that line meant significant losses in bird lives and dollars to the affected farmers. So, can they be compensated for their losses - which as it turns out were unnecessary? Cowo says he hopes so:

Armando Cowo - Manager, Belize Poultry Association
"One farmer lost 24,100 birds. The other farmer lost 4,000 birds and the third farmer it was a layer farm, layers providing eggs - he lost 2,240 birds. That's roughly 30,000 birds and they have a value. Just in the cost of those birds we are looking at in excess of $100,000 lost and some people might say a hundred thousand dollars to the industry is not a lot, but to the individual farmers and we are hoping that somehow some where we can get some monies to help these people out. I mean we have to sit down and talk with the government; we have to sit down and talk to ourselves in the industry and see how best we can help these farmers to come back on stream and do what they have to do. It's their daily living that was affected."

"The law says, the minister responsible for agriculture may compensate. Its discretionary and what we are trying to do is trying to prepare a paper to make a policy change, because if you lose $100,000, would you call the authority and tell them next time you have a problem hey guys I have a problem and lose another $100,000 or $200,000? That's a food for thought. So to encourage farmers to report we have to find a mechanism whereby we can work together with the government and the private sector, help these farmers get back on their feet, so whenever there is another alert being called out, these fellows will cooperate with us."

Channel 7

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