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Belize Agricultural Health Authority (BAHA) tightens animal inspection at entry points into country due to New World screwworm

Posted: Tuesday, February 27, 2024. 10:16 am CST.

Photo Credit: BAHA

By Rubén Morales Iglesias: After Costa Rica announced an animal health emergency due to a New World screwworm outbreak, the Belize Agricultural Health Authority (BAHA) has increased surveillance measures and is tightening up animal inspection at entry points into the country.

“We’ve heightened surveillance and inspection; surveillance primarily because illegal importation and movement are high risk activities,” BAHA’s Technical Director of Animal Health Dr Roxanna Alvarez told Breaking Belize News.

“In Costa Rica and Panama, this is what has been creating issues with control: illegal movement and importation of animals.”

“We’re also training our technical officers at BAHA and the Ministry of Agriculture, Food Security, and Enterprise (MAFSE). We’re doing this in an effort to be prepared. Fortunately for us, the screwworm hasn’t been present in Belize for the last 32 years.

Alvarez said that surveillance is done at entry points in the country – the Philip Goldson International Airport, the land border stations, and those areas that are contraband entry points.

“BAHA has quarantine inspectors that are located at all our formal entry points and we also have inspectors at Jalacte [in Toledo] which is a high risk for movement of animals and other agricultural products,” BAHA’s Managing Director Zoe Zetina said, echoing Dr Alvarez statement.

“So, we have all of those areas protected and what we have done is to heighten our inspection at these points of entry. Whenever animals are coming in we ensure that, one, we review the importation criteria to allow permission and, two, that we ensure that we have full inspection. So, any animal that comes in, it’s 100% inspection at this point.”

 

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