Written by CBC NEWS Friday, 27 July 2012 11:16
Barbados has announced a ban on the importation of live birds, poultry and poultry products from Mexico with immediate effect.
A government statement said that the action is being taken following a major outbreak of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) H7N3, commonly referred to as bird flu, in the Western state of Jalisco, Mexico.
Senior Veterinary Officer, Dr. Mark Trotman, is also advising that until the full extent of the outbreak becomes known, Barbados’ Veterinary Services will consider the entire country of Mexico affected with HPAI.
In addition, border control officials, including Veterinary and Plant Quarantine, Port Health and Customs, will be notified to exercise vigilance on shipments of products originating from Mexico, the statement said, adding that “key stakeholders will also be sensitised through public awareness bulletins and meetings as deemed necessary, while emergency response plans will be reviewed and updated as needed”.
Trotman said that the authorities in Mexico reported a major outbreak of the bird flu in June, and the government there declared a national animal health emergency on July 3.
He said that because the extent of trade in poultry products and vaccines between Mexico and other Caribbean territories was unknown, Barbados was taking all necessary precautions and banning the importation of poultry from that country.
Clinical signs of highly pathogenic avian influenza include listlessness; drooping wings; conjunctivitis; a drop in egg production, sometimes with pale, misshapen or thin-shelled eggs; respiratory signs such as gasping; diarrhea; uncoordination; a marked drop in feed and or water consumption; or swollen heads, combs, wattles and legs. There is also usually a marked increase in the number of birds dying.
“Although there is a constant low risk for the introduction of avian influenza or other serious diseases of poultry into Barbados, it is important that farmers keep vigilant and report any suspect cases to the Veterinary Services or to their veterinarian.
“An early diagnosis and rapid response to an outbreak is crucial to successful control, while maintaining biosecurity on farms is paramount,” the statement said.
“Basic measures include restricting access by visitors to the farm; keeping wild birds away; using disinfectant foot baths when entering the bird houses; and the regular cleaning and disinfection of all vehicles, tools, equipment, clothes and hands before and after use,” it added.
The statement noted that so far, 305 farms in Mexico have been tested with 33 proving positive.
In addition, 3.8 million birds have been slaughtered and destroyed out of an affected population of 9.3 million birds.
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