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Jul 3, 2012

Avian Flu Alert in Belize; mass bird killing in Mexico

The Belize Agricultural Health Authority has placed a national poultry alert following a major outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza across the border. Since the outbreak in mid June, an estimated one million birds are believed to be susceptible across three farms in Mexico. The numbers so far show that two hundred thousand have died from the outbreak and an additional sixty thousand have been destroyed. While precautionary measures are being taken at the Belize/Mexico border, farmers along the border are being asked to step up their bio-security measures. Our neighbor, Guatemala has also issued a national alert and stepped up their surveillance for Avian Influenza. A Veterinarian at the Belize Poultry Association, Dr. Victor Gongora tells us that while it hasn’t been detected in Belize, there are reasons for increased alert.


Via Phone: Dr. Victor Gongora, Veterinarian, Belize Poultry Association

“Okay. It’s considered a big outbreak because Mexico first reported it as a mild form and then later reported it as a highly pathogenic form. And this caused both countries to go on alert because we had a similar experience in Mexico in 1994-1996 when they had an outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza in 1994-1996. It continued to; they couldn’t control it. they had been vaccinated since and it spread to other countries in Central America. So now that we have another report of this is a concern for Central American and of course Belize.”


Andrea Polanco

Victor Gongora

“Now from what I’m reading here in the release, the disease rarely affects humans? Is that correct?”


Via Phone: Dr. Victor Gongora

“Yes it’s so rare that Mexico is reporting and quoting international organizations that are saying it does not affect humans.”


Andrea Polanco

“Alright so in terms of it affecting the birds, what can we look out for?”


Via Phone: Dr. Victor Gongora

“If a farmer has a high mortality in his birds, then we will want them to report it to the authorities as soon as possible. When the birds shows signs of sickness—because normally they are found dead—then they would see that the birds have been suffering from an acute illness; and so you would just find them down and then dead in a matter of hours.”


Andrea Polanco

“Alright. Now in terms of the measures that we need to take, what can we as Belizeans here and people who are involved in the poultry industry do?”


Via Phone: Dr. Victor Gongora

“Belize has an emergency preparedness plan and this plan is being used by BAHA and by industry and right now what we have done we are on the alert stage; especially for farmers along the northern districts—along the borders with Mexico—they have already gone on high alert. They have stepped up their bio-security. We are monitoring the birds there. Farmers are being told about the disease and how to recognize it. And we are ensuring that BAHA can test quickly if we submit any samples. And just in time, BAHA has just finalized a countrywide testing of birds for avian influenza and we are hoping that those results will come out soon.”


Andrea Polanco

“So at this time we are not sure if it is here as yet?”


Via Phone: Dr. Victor Gongora

“We don’t think it is here because so far from all the reports it is still up in Jalisco; this is above Mexico City in the western part of Mexico. And Mexico just on Monday declared a national emergency meaning that they will be looking for the disease all over Mexico now and not just in Jalisco. Because of our controls, we already knew about this disease and the borders have been closed—it has always been closed, but more strict now from the quarantine section of BAHA and they stepped up bio-security. We feel that that avian influenza is not in the country. We have actually been looking for the disease since 1999 and so far we have not detected avian Influenza in Belize.”


We’ll continue to follow up on the situation as it progresses.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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1 Response for “Avian Flu Alert in Belize; mass bird killing in Mexico”

  1. Storm says:

    I hope prompt and decisive action will protect the bird industry in the Jewel. Our economy doesn’t need any more shots to it.

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