Veterinary officials in the Caribbean and members of the regional poultry sector are on high alert to prevent the
introduction and spread of the Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza.

The Caribbean Animal Health Network, or CaribVET, and the Caribbean Poultry Association, CPA, recently convened a three-day Avian Influenza Regional Preparedness meeting in Barbados.

The meeting was held to review and develop a regional strategic plan to safeguard food security and the livelihoods of communities across the region.

The meeting was told that over the past six months, the new bird flu virus, has been wreaking havoc in North America.

The virus is highly contagious and extremely deadly to chickens and turkeys.

To date, there’s no evidence that it affects people.

Since the start of the year, more than 50-million birds have either died or have been destroyed, costing the industry and the US government, billions of dollars.

More than 90% of the hatching eggs and day-old chicks required in the Caribbean for the production of table eggs and broiler meat are sourced from the United States.

Last month, chief veterinary officers from the Caribbean met with their counterparts at the US Department of Agriculture in Baltimore, Maryland, to examine the measures that were being taken to safeguard the supply of hatching eggs and day-old chicks to the region.