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Jul 13, 2012

BAHA says Belize on high alert to monitor Avian Flu in Mexico

Ten days ago, The Belize Agricultural Health Authority placed a national poultry alert following a major outbreak of a highly pathogenic avian influenza called H-7-N-3 in Jalisco, Mexico. The outbreak, which was detected on three Mexican farms, has now spread to over fifty farms. It has killed thousands of birds in that country. BAHA says due to the nature of the virus, Belize must take extreme precautionary measures because the virus seems to be heavily impacting poultry. Although it hasn’t been detected in the jewel, Director of Animal Health at BAHA, Miguel Depaz, says it doesn’t take much for it to contaminate local birds.


Miguel Depaz, Director of Animal Health, BAHA

“The way the disease is transmitted it’s very difficult to contain; so countries bordering Mexico, such as Guatemala and Disease, Belize really is on alert mode; Guatemala, because they do more trade with Mexico, they are in a mode of emergency.”


Jules Vasquez, 7News

“Now, what measures are we taking at the BAHA level; and what measures can people take at home so that somehow it won’t lead to transmission in Belize?”


Miguel Depaz

Miguel Depaz

“So, we are focusing on what we call surveillance, so we’ll have people, which presently we do have who are part of the BAHA team up north who are out their monitoring, testing, sampling birds. A big part of the activity is surveillance bio-security; farmers know that we can’t have dirty vehicles from infected farms coming in to the country so we need to strengthen up the monitoring capacity and make sure we have the kits and do rapid diagnosis and response to an outbreak if given.”


Andrea Polanco

“Should this be detected, what will it mean for the poultry industry here?”


Miguel Depaz

“That industry is very important to Belize and we are talking about fifty to sixty million dollars so it’s very serious; the important thing to do is as soon as it come in, to detect it and contain it. The poultry industry employs over two thousand five hundred people and it’s an important sector in terms of G.D.P.; it’s a seventy-five percent of the livestock G.D.P.; sixteen percent of the poultry G.D.P.  Given that, we need to be prepared, it’s likely that it can come to Belize.”


Jules Vasquez



Miguel Depaz

“It is likely, given the way how the disease is transmitted; imagine a wild bird in Jalisco gets exposed to the virus and coming here getting in contact with our commercial poultry or back yard poultry mixing up with commercial poultry; the risk is there. We’ll identify the risk then as wild birds as I previously said, or the importation of poultry products; at this time there is no formal trade. We know that there is informal trade and very difficult to control so BAHA stepping up at the border; there’s a high risk in terms of contraband of poultry products coming in to Belize.”


Andrea Polanco

“So in reality, it can take only take one wild bird to bring the influenza over to Belize?”


Miguel Depaz

“That is correct. It only needs for one bird; an infected bird to come here and shed that virus and other birds from Belize getting exposed to that virus.”


Jules Vasquez

“But in the natural course, birds don’t generally fly from Jalisco to Corozal?”


Miguel Depaz

“Of course, birds fly from the northern part of this continent to the southern part; migratory birds do fly thousands and thousands of miles and I want to say this, that those birds are natural reservoirs of this virus. They can live with it and not because you are not seeing any dead it doesn’t mean they are not carrying any virus.”

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2 Responses for “BAHA says Belize on high alert to monitor Avian Flu in Mexico”

  1. Storm says:

    Let’s hope the measures are effective. Our businesses and economy don’t need the losses that could come from a flu outbreak.

  2. dunfedup says:

    Let’s hope the minister involved in allowing the mennonites from shipyard to import chicks from mexico without baha permit will take notice before his selfish ambitions ruin the whole chicken industry in BZ. And the mennonite himself be held accountable for such greedy activity and payment under the table. shame on both of you!

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