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Vet Services to investigate Bird Flu status in USA

When contacted Monday for a comment on the possibility of a Federation’s ban or restrictions on poultry imports from the United States and Canada, was informed by Chief Veterinarian Officer Dr. Tracy Challenger at the Department of Veterinary Services that her Ministry was not aware of any outbreak of Bird Flu in North America.

“I have not received any word!” said Dr. Challenger.

However, this media house has learnt that Jamaica recently imposed a ban on poultry and products coming from several areas of the United States and Canada. understands, also, that Antigua and Barbuda were to impose a similar ban on importation of such products from the United States just days ago.

But when asked if St. Kitts and Nevis would take a similar stance on the importation of poultry and poultry products, Dr. Challenger reiterated that she is not aware of any ban or reports of Bird Flu being found in North America.

“We have to do our own evaluation! I don’t know… I have to look into it, because what you are saying, I have no information with respect to that. So I will have to look into that and find out what we will do,” Dr. Challenger stated.

However, popular regional media entity Caribbean360, in an article published 20th March, informed, “Jamaica imposes ban on North American poultry products.”

According to the agriculture minister on that island, the ban is specific to poultry coming from the US states of Kansas, Arkansas, Missouri, Minnesota, California, Idaho, Oregon and Washington and from the province of British Columbia in Canada.

Meanwhile, information reaching this publication states that the Antiguan authorities have confirmed the presence of the flu in several states in the United States, but have backed off from an outright ban, according to a recent report coming out of Antigua.

“It appears that government has back-pedaled on its decision to impose a ban on poultry and poultry products imported from the United States.

“A well-placed source informed Observer media, at the weekend, of the impending ban in order to ‘protect’ the country from the Avian Bird Flu.

“But hours after the news broke, agriculture officials told a news conference they will be ‘restricting imports’ not banning imports.

“The Veterinary and Livestock Division has not placed a ban, as yet. Up to now, there is no ban,” said Dr. Tubal Edwards, Antigua’s acting chief veterinary officer.

Dr. Edwards said the Division would, instead, “restrict imports from certain parts of the USA,” the Antigua Observer reported.

Just last year, Antigua placed a ban on the importation of poultry and poultry products from several European countries including the UK, Netherlands and Asian powerhouse Japan.

Dr. Challenger noted that if they can confirm that there is indeed the presence of Bird Flu, then they would impose a ban.

Bird Flu is caused by a type of influenza virus that is hosted by birds, but it could infect several species of mammals. It was first identified in Italy in the early 1900s and is now known to exist worldwide.

Strains of the avian influenza virus may infect various types of animals, including birds, pigs, horses, seals, whales and humans. Wild fowl is known to act as natural asymptomatic carriers, spreading it to more susceptible domestic stocks.

Avian influenza virus spreads through the air and in manure, and there is no evidence that the virus can survive in well-cooked meats.

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