Pig farmers asked to be more vigilant
Farmers, especially those in the pig industry, need to be very alert and proactive to maintain the safety and integrity of the industry.
Minister of Agriculture, Robert Persaud made the call during a meeting on Saturday with stakeholders in the pig industry to discuss the H1N1 virus commonly called Swine flu.
He urged that there be increased surveillance on farms, adding that Guyana should be ‘on top of the situation’ by being alert and able to take all of the preventative measures to ensure that the country remains free of the disease.
According to the Minister, there have been no cases of the virus among animals in Guyana, however, having recognised this, veterinarians and other extension officers need to keep farmers and those involved in the industry aware of the need to take precautions.
This needs to be done, he added, to have the necessary bio-safety arrangements on the farms, including increasing basic hygiene.
A comprehensive checklist was developed to ensure that by omission Guyana does not get contaminated.
According to Minister Persaud, the veterinarians from the Ministry of Agriculture will be playing a much more visible role in interacting with pig farmers on a constant basis.
This, he noted, will be done especially during this period to heighten their activities in the industry.
Minister Persaud added that a mechanism will be put in place to have farmers in the swine industry constantly file reports of the status of their farms.
“With the limited staff we have, we will not be able to have the report done by them…so to be on top of the situation we will have constant reports.”
The Minister added that these reports are to prevent any chances of contamination.
He pointed out that a similar exercise was undertaken during the preparation for the Bird Flu pandemic some time ago.
“That itself has increased our alertness and our understanding of dealing with these situations and we need to look at many lessons to learn from our preparedness in how we go forward in this area.”
Persaud said that persons should not panic as there is no infection in Guyana’s stock, but farmers need to be ‘alert and to take all of the preventative measures.’
“From all reports, we know persons cannot get the flu from the consumption of pork.”
Minister of Health, Dr. Leslie Ramsammy, announced last week that Guyana is not taking any chances as the Swine Flu virus continues to spread around the world.
He added that Guyana is currently working with the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) in immediately planning a meeting of technical officers from Venezuela, Suriname and Brazil to discuss surveillance procedures at the borders.
To date, Guyana has no evidence to support any case of swine flu in country, but a number of actions have been instituted by the Ministry of Health, such as heightened surveillance at ports of entry, including the international airports, seaports and at the borders.
The WHO has confirmed human cases of swine flu in Mexico, the United States, Canada, Britain, Israel, New Zealand and Spain. Germany and Austria became the latest countries to report infections.