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VI bans importing live birds due to Bird Flu scare

- imposes temporary ban on the importation of live birds from certain areas in US & Canada due to the spread of the Avian Influenza (H5N2 Subtype) or Bird Flu
It was brought to the attention of this news site yesterday, July 6, 2015 by a prominent poultry and cash crop farmer that because of the dangerous strain of Avian Influenza, which has hit certain states in the United States of America, the Government of the Virgin Islands (VI) was going to take a position to ban the importation of live chickens and other birds. Photo: Internet Source
Chief Agricultural Officer Mr Bevin Braithwaite said in the release that the temporary importation restriction is in accordance with the Animal (Disease and Importation) Act (CAP 88 Section 3(i)). Photo: VINO/File
Chief Agricultural Officer Mr Bevin Braithwaite said in the release that the temporary importation restriction is in accordance with the Animal (Disease and Importation) Act (CAP 88 Section 3(i)). Photo: VINO/File
ROAD TOWN, Tortola, VI – It was brought to the attention of this news site yesterday, July 6, 2015 by a prominent poultry and cash crop farmer that because of the dangerous strain of Avian Influenza, which has hit certain states in the United States of America, the Government of the Virgin Islands (VI) was going to take a position to ban the importation of live chickens and other birds.

This was confirmed by the Department of Agriculture by a senior officer who had advised that a press release was likely to be made public as it relates to the issue. This was forthcoming shortly after mid-night.

Noting that the health of persons comes first, local farmers expressed that with the temporary ban placed on the importation of all live birds by the Department of Agriculture it is a unique opportunity for local farmers to capitalise on the market for their home grown chicken.

“We have what it takes in this territory to produce especially chicken to meet the market. We just need the tools and the backing of our government and we can do it,” said local farmer Mr Lettsome.

According to the release from the Department of Agriculture, the ban takes immediate effect as of today July 7, 2015 and is temporarily specific to the importation of live birds, particularly poultry including; chicken, duck, geese and or turkey, from specific jurisdictions in the United States and Toronto, Canada due to the spread of the highly pathogenic Avian Influenza (H5N2 Subtype).

Chief Agricultural Officer Mr Bevin Braithwaite said in the release that the temporary importation restriction is in accordance with the Animal (Disease and Importation) Act (CAP 88 Section 3(i)).

Bird Flu cases confirmed in 17 US states

As proven in our research and as said by Mr Braithwaite, some 17 states in the USA have confirmed cases of the influenza, including; Kansas, Iowa, Missouri, Minnesota, California, Idaho, Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia.

The Chief Agricultural Officer stated that the public’s awareness and cooperation is key to preventing an outbreak or spread of the virus into the territory.

He said, “Any person with the intent to import live birds into the territory must request an import permit from the Department of Agriculture, specifying the origin of the birds and the intended arrival before such a permit is granted.”

Chief Veterinary Officer with the Department of Agriculture, Dr S. Michael Montrose said the Department, through the Veterinary Division, has been vigilant since the start of the outbreaks in November 2014 in Europe. He said poultry farmers were made aware of the outbreak and what should be done to avoid importing infected birds into the territory.

Dr Montrose said, “Now that the outbreaks have spread to the United States and North America, we have continued to notify farmers, importers and fowl handlers of the possible threat. We are carefully monitoring the situation and we hope that persons take the time to apply or call the department before importing birds from any area.”

Dr Montrose added, “Although there may be measures in place for the ports of entry, we want persons to bear in mind that some of the wild infected poultry may be part of the migratory flocks that travel through our region via our flyways, therefore the department recognises this as an additional threat or pathway for introducing the highly pathogenic Avian Influenza virus into our territory.”

What is Bird Flu?

Bird flu, also called avian influenza, is a viral infection that can also infect humans and other animals. However, most forms of the virus are restricted to birds.

H5N1 is also the most common form of bird flu. Not only is it deadly to birds, but it can easily affect humans and other animals who come in contact with a carrier. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), H5N1 was first discovered in humans in 1997, and has killed nearly 60 percent of those infected. An extremely deadly strain of bird flu, H5N1, continues to spread among poultry in Egypt, as well as certain areas of Asia.

Currently, the virus is not known to be spread via human-to-human contact. Still, some experts worry that H5N1 may pose a risk of becoming a pandemic threat to humans.

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