US Airport Officials Confiscate Bag Of Dead Birds From Chinese Passenger
Officials at an airport near to Washington DC have confiscated a bag full of dead birds from a passenger arriving into the USA from China, according to the US Customs and Border Protection agency (CBP).
The bag arrived with a passenger flying into Dulles International Airport, Virginia, on a flight from Beijing that landed on 27 January.
According to the CBP, the luggage was examined by agriculture specialists who discovered a package with pictures of a dog and a cat on it. Inside the partially see-through bag were a load of dried-out dead birds that measured about two-and-a-half to three-and-a-half inches long.
The passenger carrying the luggage said that the birds were cat food.
After confiscation, the bag and its contents were incinerated. The Chinese birds cannot be imported into the USA because there is an ongoing threat of highly pathogenic avian influenza, or - more commonly - bird flu.
In a press release, Casey Durst, Director of Field Operations for the CBP's Baltimore Field Office, said: "These dead birds are prohibited from importation to the United States as unprocessed birds pose a potentially significant disease threat to our nation's poultry industries and more alarmingly to our citizens as potential vectors of avian influenza.
"Customs and Border Protection agriculture specialists continue to exercise extraordinary vigilance every day in their fight to protect our nation's agricultural and economic prosperity from invasive pests and animal diseases."
The same news release stated that last year the agricultural specialists from the CBP confiscated 4,695 prohibited plant, meat, animal by-products, as well as soil, and 314 insect pests at points of entry into the United States.
Bird flu is a particular worry at the minute - as well as the current Wuhan coronavirus outbreak, the Chinese Ministry for Agriculture and Rural Affairs reported that the incredibly pathogenic H5N1 bird flu has been discovered in thousands of chickens in Hunan Province.
The ministry released a statement on 1 February that said: "The farm has 7,850 chickens, and 4,500 of the chickens have died from the contagion. Local authorities have culled 17,828 poultry after the outbreak,"
While there are no reported human cases of the virus, and transmission is rare, the World Health Organisation's information on bird flu states that nearly all cases of infection come from 'close contact with infected live or dead birds, or H5N1-contaminated environments'.
In a statement, the WHO also said: "If the H5N1 virus were to change and become easily transmissible from person to person while retaining its capacity to cause severe disease, the consequences for public health could be very serious."
Featured Image Credit: US Customs and Border Protection