DA: Philippines now bird flu-free
MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines is now free of Avian influenza (AI) or bird flu, the Department of Agriculture (DA) announced Tuesday.
DA said the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) has declared the country free of the last remaining A(H5N6) strain of AI as of January 8, 2021.
In its report to OIE, the DA Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) said farms in Pampanga and Rizal where an outbreak of AI A(H5N6) occurred, showed no further evidence of the presence of the virus during monitoring and surveillance.
“We had not detected any case of AI A(H5N6) among the poultry and other bird population in the last 90 days after the completion of cleaning and disinfection in the affected farms, surveillance and monitoring, and completion of the 35-day restocking period with sentinel animals in Pampanga and Rizal,” DA-BAI Ronnie Domingo said.
DA said the country was able to resolve the outbreaks of the AI A(H5N6) in a commercial layer poultry farm in Pampanga, and in backyard poultry farms in a village in Rizal, in less than a year after the poultry virus re-emerged in the country.
In July 2020, the DA-BAI Animal Disease Diagnosis and Reference Laboratory confirmed the recurrence of A(H5N6), after the owner of the commercial layer farm notified the Pampanga provincial veterinary office about the sudden drop in egg production, cyanosis (dark bluish or purplish coloration of the skin and mucous membranes in chickens), and mortalities.
READ: Bird flu emerges anew in Pampanga town
Another case was detected in Rizal, which was reported by a farmer on August 26, 2020, to the municipal veterinary office of Taytay.
DA said the backyard farm had approximately 500 heads of free-range chicken and 300 heads of Muscovy ducks.
The clinical signs – such as wry neck or torticollis, cyanosis of extremities – and death were observed since August 10, 2020.
Sanitary control and containment operations were carried out immediately to hamper the further spread of the virus, DA said.
“We appreciate the rapid response and collaboration of the local government units of Pampanga and Rizal and DA Regional Field Offices III and IV-A,” DA-BAI said.
Agriculture Secretary William Dar welcomed the development, saying that poultry meat is a highly popular animal protein source among Filipinos, like pork and beef.
“I congratulate the DA-Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) and the local governments of Pampanga and Rizal, whose swift action resulted in limiting the further spread of the AI A(H5N6) strain to other areas,” Dar said in a statement.
The agency also thanked the affected farmers – for their prompt reporting that led to the early containment of the disease – the poultry stakeholders, and partners from the Department of Health for extending support to the prevention and control of AI.
The Philippines also resolved the outbreak cases of AI in 2017 and 2018.
DA-BAI reminded poultry farmers and industry stakeholders to remain vigilant and report any unusual mortalities to their respective farm veterinarians or nearest government veterinary or agriculture office.
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