Ban on importation of poultry, poultry products a matter of “national security” – GLDA

…step taken to counter potential effects of bird flu – CEO

The Guyana Livestock Development Authority (GLDA) on May 6 declared that it will no longer allow the importation of poultry or poultry products due to “sanitary and other conditions.”
“Anyone found in contradiction of this notice will be prosecuted in accordance with the Laws of Guyana,” the organisation’s public advisory statement revealed.
When contacted, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of GLDA, Dr. Dwight Waldron related that this ban is a matter of “national security” and a preventative step taken to counter the potential effects of bird flu that is prevalent in the Americas.
Bird flu is a disease that can spread through entire flocks of domestic birds within days, through birds’ droppings and saliva, or through contaminated feed and water.
“In the Region of the Americas during 2022 and 2023, an increasing number of outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian influenza A(H5) have been reported in backyard poultry, farm poultry, wild birds, and wild mammals,” an April World Health Organisation (WHO) article explained.
Since the first confirmation of avian influenza A(H5N1) in the region in 2014, three human infections caused by this disease have been reported, one each in the United States in 2022, Ecuador in January, and Chile in March, the statement continued.
“Currently, in the region of the Americas, we’re surrounded by bird flu. Every day, we’re tracking it and it’s getting closer and closer to Guyana,” Waldron said. “In addition to that, we have unstable weather patterns [that lead] to some of the diseases that are endemic to Guyana.”
Waldron expanded that the GLDA has been consistently researching and monitoring this situation internationally and regionally through its epidemiological department.
The GLDA, therefore, is seeking to do a full evaluation of this situation across the region–in the Caribbean, South, Central, and North Americas–before importation can continue, Dr. Waldron explained.
The ban extends to frozen and live chickens and their byproducts across small and large exporters.
As this is a regional concern, there is no set limit to this halt of importation. “This is not a case where Guyana alone is fighting against what is happening. It is a concerted effort by all these countries [within this region] to combat these diseases.”
The CEO further revealed that later this month, he will be participating in a meeting with the World Organisation of Animal Health (WOAH) to determine the best strategies to contain and try to eradicate diseases that affect animals for consumption.
“Locally, what we’ve been doing is reinforcing all of our ports of entry and improving our testing capabilities in our laboratory,” Waldron said. “We’re taking samples on a daily basis, we’ve completed postal surveys looking for those diseases so should we encounter anything, we can move to contain it quickly.”
He added that the organisation is pleading with all stakeholders to understand that this is not something that is unique only to Guyana but is a necessary step to take to protect our food security status.