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No Bird Flu in Trinidad

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Poultry farmers in Trinidad and Tobago breathed a sigh of relief on Tuesday with the diagnosis of aspergillosis, a fungal infection which has resulted in a large number of dead chickens at a farm there.

Afzal Ali, Nutrimix manager said that fear of an outbreak of bird flu has kept the industry in a constant state of high alert for several months. {{more}} He said that aspergillosis was not uncommon and Nutrimix has in the past dealt with cases of the fungal infection.

The outbreak took place at a farm in Cumuto.

Last September, the ministry sent out notifications to all poultry farmers urging them to report any signs of illness at farms.

A bird flu watch comprising veterinary officers, poultry farmers and officers of the Ministries of Health and Agriculture has been conducting workshops to sensitize farmers on diseases affecting poultry, including bird flu.

Dr Lisa Moosai, Veterinary Officer of the Poultry Surveillance Unit at the Ministry of Agriculture, said that “luckily” the disease at the farm at Cumuto was not one of significance. She said that the diseases “comes up” from time to time with bad batches of birds. She said that tests were yet to be completed. Aspergillosis, Moosai noted was spread through litter at the farms’ hatcheries.

She said that the chicks could have carried the disease from the hatchery in their lungs.

It was pointed out that all litter on farms must be properly treated to kill fungal spores that cause aspergillosis among poultry.

Moosai said there was no available treatment for the disease. Infected birds were being killed up to Tuesday. The farm has not restarted operations.