by Dayne Guy
Silver Creek, Toledo District, Thurs. Sept. 9, 2021– The Belize Agricultural Health Authority (BAHA) has issued a release that urges poultry producers in the southern part of the country to be vigilant following the identification of suspected cases of virulent Newcastle Disease in poultry samples from Silver Creek, Toledo, that were tested in a BAHA lab.
In line with the World Organization for International Health’s guidelines, BAHA is classifying all positive results in its testing for Newcastle disease to be suspect cases. Samples must be sent to a World Organization for International Health laboratory for further examination to prevent a misdiagnosis, however — since testing results for cases of Newcastle Disease’s and for cases of Avian influenza are similar.
The Newcastle Disease is highly contagious. It primarily affects birds, including domestic poultry, and there have been sporadic outbreaks of the disease in Belize, with the virus surfacing particularly in poultry raised in backyards. The disease takes on three forms: lentogenic or mild, mesogenic or moderate, and velogenic or very virulent, as the suspected cases in Southern Belize are believed to be.
Since the Newcastle Disease has been listed as an OIE poultry disease of trade importance; BAHA, the Ministry of Agriculture, Food Security and Enterprise, the Belize Poultry Association, the Regional International Organization for Agricultural Health (OIRSA), and the Inter-American Institute for Collaboration on Agriculture (IICA) will collaboratively institute the Emergency Preparedness and Response Plan to address a poultry disease of trade importance.
As part of the implementation of that plan, they will restrict the movement of poultry to reduce the risk of transmission, institute a vaccination campaign for backyard poultry as a means to prevent an endemic and ensure a high level of biosecurity in commercial operations. BAHA and the Ministry of Agriculture, Food Security, and Enterprise said that these measures will be accompanied by public awareness campaigns and continuous monitoring of the affected areas.
The joint BAHA and Ministry of Agriculture, Food Security, and Enterprise release states, “The public, as well as backyard and commercial poultry producers, are asked to be vigilant for sick and dying birds and report cases to BAHA and the Ministry of Agriculture at 824-4899 and 822-2241, respectively.” Common symptoms to be on the alert for include respiratory disease, depression, nervous manifestations, and diarrhea.