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Feb 25, 2022

Illegal Exotic Birds May Be Carrying Disease: B.A.H.A. Running Tests

Concerns over disease in some peacocks have prompted tests for two types of avian disease. Officials at the Belize Agriculture Health Authority have ruled out the presence of Newcastle Disease and Avian Influenza. But, B.A.H.A. officials fear the exotic birds that were smuggled into Belize may be suffering from something else and could pose a risk to other wildlife if they are not quarantined and the disease identified. News Five got wind of the report today and contacted the Acting Managing Director of B.A.H.A., Francisco Gutierrez. He explained why they could only screen for two diseases and the risks associated with birds and other animals that are brought in illegally.


Francisco Gutierrez

Francisco Gutierrez, Acting Managing Director, B.A.H.A.

“Some lab requests came in for our lab to test for Newcastle Disease and for Avian Influenza for samples for peacocks. However these came back negative. So we never really determined what was the problem. Again, these were samples sent to us, and requested to do those tests from a private animal clinic. So it’s not like we had access to the birds to run a whole battery of tests. If a veterinarian sends samples for us and tells us to test for A, B, C, we do A, B, C, unless we’re doing surveillance and we determine that we need to run a much wider set of tests to determine what’s the problem. These were peacocks from somewhere. You’d be surprised at what get smuggled. We’ve had cases of people smuggling very large animals, including horses, cattle, etcetera. They walk them cross the borders, across rivers, across areas that are not monitored. We have an open border where anything can come in really and we plead with people not to do it. We plead for them to come to us first for us to do the due diligence. It’s not prohibited, per se, but there is a process to go through to ensure that these species that are proposed for importation go through the risk analysis process.”

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