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Global animal health body declares Philippines free of bird flu strain

The Office International des Epizooties, or the World Organization for Animal Health, declared the Philippines bird-flu free, the Department of Agriculture said Tuesday.

OIE issued the proclamation on Jan. 8, 2021, clearing the Philippines of the remaining H5N6 strain of avian influenza, according to the Bureau of Animal Industry, an attached agency of the DA.

The department said the country resolved the outbreak of AI A(H5N6) in a commercial layer poultry farm in Pampanga and backyard poultry farms in a village in Rizal in less than a year after the virus reemerged in the country.

“I congratulate the DA-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,” said Agriculture Secretary William Dar.

The DA said in a report to the OIE the affected farms showed no further evidence of the presence of the AI 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,” said BAI director Ronnie Domingo.

The recurrence of A(H5N6) was confirmed by BAI Animal Disease Diagnosis and Reference Laboratory on July 10, 2020, after the owner of a 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.

Another case was detected in Rizal, reported by a farmer on Aug. 26, 2020, to the municipal veterinary office of Taytay. The backyard farm had 500 head of free-range chicken and 300 head of Muscovy ducks. Clinical signs such as wry neck or torticollis, cyanosis of extremities and death were observed since Aug. 10, 2020.

The DA said as a result of the swift action of the farm owners, sanitary control and containment operations to prevent the further spread of the virus were carried out immediately.

BAI commended affected farmers for their prompt reporting that led to the early containment of the disease and poultry stakeholders and partners.

The Philippines faced similar outbreaks in 2017 and 2018 but with industry-wide support was able to rid of the virus.

The DA asked poultry farmers and industry stakeholders to remain vigilant and report any unusual mortalities to animal health authorities.

Topics: Department of Agriculture , Office International des Epizooties , World Organization for Animal Health , bird flu free
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