Before you freak out, be advised that the birds did not die of the Wuhan coronavirus, even though birds are potential carriers of the deadly virus.
So why was a passenger from China headed to an address in Prince George’s County, Md., carrying 200 dead bird’s in his suitcase? The birds, according to the traveler, are intended as cat food. Via Breaking 911:
During a baggage examination, CBP [Customs and Border Protection] agriculture specialists discovered a package with pictures of a cat and dog that the passenger said was cat food. The package contained a bunch of unknown small birds, about 2.5 to 3.5 inches in length.
Now feel free to freak out. Via ABC Virginia affiliate WJLA:
Airport officials say the import of birds from China is prohibited into the U.S. due to the risk of a “potentially significant disease threat” of a highly pathogenic avian influenza which could spread to the nation’s poultry industries. Officials say the birds were destroyed through incineration with the approval of the USDA.
The flu in question is the H5N1 bird flu, an outbreak of which has occurred in a Chinese province near the epicenter of the outbreak of the coronovirus. Casey Durst, director of field operations for CBP’s Baltimore Field Office, is quoted as saying:
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.