US Homeland Security Department inspectors at US airports said don't have enough training to keep a deadly strain of bird flu from getting into the country, a union official charged Saturday, citing the handling of live birds found in the luggage of a passenger from Vietnam.
Gaps in front-line protections were on display this week when a Customs official at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport was confused about how to properly quarantine the three cages of birds, Alejandra Scaffa, vice president of the National Association of Agriculture Employees, said Friday. Vietnam is among the nations that have been the hardest hit by the deadly disease.
Homeland Security spokeswoman Suzanne Trevano said while the birds were not put in a previously designated quarantine area, they were placed in a filtered and sealed box and left overnight in a room that only certain officials were allowed to enter.
She said inspectors routinely have stopped and screened passengers and fowl entering the United States from flu-afflicted areas.
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