June 15, 2017 - The US Ambassador to Panama, John Feeley; along with APHIS Veterinary Services Administrator, Dr. Jack Shere; and IS Associate Deputy Administrator, Rebecca Bech praised the work of the US-Panama Cooperative Screwworm Program (COPEG) staff in a June 7, 2017 ceremony at the COPEG facility in Panama. Program staff were recognized for their logistical support in rapidly responding to the New World Screwworm (NWS) outbreak in the Florida Keys in October 2016, which threatened the health and welfare of the endangered Key Deer and presented a threat to Florida’s livestock industry.
NWS feeds on the flesh of mammals, including cattle and humans. COPEG, managed by IS’ Action Programs and the Ministry of Agriculture of Panama, seeks to eradicate the flies by irradiating them, so they cannot reproduce. The program works to prevent screwworm flies from coming north to the United States and destroying cattle. COPEG sent 200 million sterile pupae, which became 180 million sterile flies, as well as technicians providing logistics and advice.
The ceremony was also attended by Minister of Agricultural Development of the Republic of Panama Engineer Eduardo Carles; the Vice Minister of Agricultural Development Dr. Esteban Antonio Girón Diaz; the Directors General of COPEG for Panama and the United States, respectively, Drs. Francisco Pinilla and Antonio Arroyave; and Florida State Department of Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Deputy Commissioner Dr. Lisa Conti.