GUAM EMBARGO ON BIRD SHIPMENTS INCLUDES NEWBORN BIRDS, CHICKS

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By Scott Radway

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (October 1, 2002 - Pacific Daily News)---Guam officials expanded an embargo on live bird shipments to the island to include newborn birds and chicks of any age, as fear the West Nile virus could spread here from the mainland continues.

The embargo announced Friday followed similar action taken in Hawai‘i as the West Nile virus was confirmed in California, where many of the islands' shipments originate.

The embargo now bans all live bird and poultry shipments to the island except hatching eggs and shipments that originate from Hawai‘i, where no signs of the West Nile virus have been detected.

West Nile virus is primarily a wild bird disease that can infect humans, mosquitoes, horses and some other mammals, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is spread to humans by mosquitoes that have fed on birds with high concentrations of the virus.

Most people infected with West Nile virus experience mild flu-like symptoms. But the elderly, infants and people with compromised immune systems can get seriously ill, or even die from the virus.

The embargo will mostly affect pet stores, bird owners and cockfighters. But it was necessary to protect people from the disease and also for the safety of Guam's endangered birds, according to the Guam Department of Agriculture's acting director, Wilfred Aflague.

Aflague has said the embargo could last four months as the island works with Hawai‘i, California and federal agencies to establish a quarantine and/or inoculation program that would guarantee the virus does not become established here.

For additional reports from the Pacific Daily News, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/Pacific Daily News (Guam).

WEST NILE VIRUS

Pacific Daily News, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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