Antigua and Barbuda has placed a temporary ban on the importation of all poultry from the United Kingdom because of an outbreak of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (H5N8). Other Caribbean countries may do the same.
The decision to impose the temporary ban was taken following a meeting of CARICOM Chief Veterinary Officers. H5N8 is a strain of the avian influenza virus which can result in catastrophic effects to the poultry sector in Antigua and Barbuda and across the region.
“This virus has zoonotic potential (which means) it can be spread between animals and humans and is highly virulent and highly pathogenic,” the statement said, noting that a small amount of the virus can rapidly spread across massive numbers of birds in a short period.
The statement said that entry of this virus can result in sudden death of birds for entire farms and flocks and devastate poultry farms within 48 hours. It said a harmonised approach across the region is vital to secure the poultry sector across CARICOM.
“This preventative approach has been taken as research and analysis has shown that this virus is on trend to continue its spread; particularly due to the imminent winter season in which flocks of wild birds migrate across the globe with the potential to spread the virus. A preventative approach has therefore been taken to safeguard people, food and the overall poultry sector of our nation and by extension the region.”
The statement noted that effective November 25, a temporary regional ban has been placed on all poultry from the United Kingdom including chicken, duck, turkey, geese, guinea fowl, quail and squab, adding this includes all fresh, chilled and frozen poultry products; live birds and hatching eggs.