The Department of Agriculture (DA) is well-prepared to prevent and contain the entry of the bird flu or avian influenza (AI) virus, particularly sub-type H5N6, which was recently reported in Xinjiang, China.

Agriculture Secretary William Dar said the DA’s Bureau of Animal Industry (DA-BAI) has been conducting twice-a-year surveillance in high-risk areas and traditional destinations of migratory birds, in addition to conducting regular tests on birds intended for local transport and trade.

For instance, in 2019 the DA-BAI has tested a total of 8,245 samples at the Animal Disease Diagnosis and Reference Laboratory and Regional Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratories around the country.

“To date, test results remain negative,” said Secretary Dar.

Birds intended for local transport and trade also have to undergo bird flu testing before shipping permits can be issued. Last year, a total of 5,295 samples were tested by the DA-BAI laboratories, which yielded negative results.

Secretary Dar added that the temporary ban remains in place on imports of domestic and wild birds, poultry meat, day-old chicks, eggs, and poultry products from countries with positive cases of highly pathogenic AI. These include China, South Korea, Germany, France, the Netherlands, and recently Poland.

He urges poultry raisers and other industry stakeholders to implement measures in partnership with the DA-BAI to keep the country free from bird flu.

The Chinese agriculture ministry recently reported detections of H5N6 of avian influenza in Xinjiang, China, where 13 swans died in wetlands inhabited by around 800 birds.

DA-BAI Director Ronnie Domingo said it has yet to detect any new H5N6 virus in the local poultry population.

The Philippines submitted to the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) a self-declaration of freedom from avian influenza in the first quarter of 2019.

“We are in the process of revising the document in accordance with the provisions of Article 10.4.4 of the OIE Terrestrial Animal Health Code (Terrestrial Code),” Domingo said. ###

Noel Ocampo Reyes
DA Spokesperson
& Ass’t. Sec. for Comms.
& Media Affairs
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