DA 7 renews call to strengthen monitoring against bird flu

A STRICT biosecurity measure is in place at a poultry farm in Dumanjug, Cebu as the threat of bird flu, or the avian influenza (AI) virus, particularly the sub-type H5N6, was recently reported in Xinjiang, China.

Mark Lim of Truvicom Poultry Farms told SunStar Cebu they make sure their workers follow a strict biosecurity procedure.

“There is no entry and exit in the area where the poultry are. And there are also certain areas where our workers can access but they have to disinfect themselves first by taking a bath and changing into the proper clothing. All the trucks that come and go are also disinfected,” he said.

The Department of Agriculture (DA) 7 has renewed its call to the poultry industry to strengthen its monitoring against bird flu.

DA 7 Director Salvador Diputado said Central Visayas remains free of the disease.

“We are still monitoring, especially in places where there are migratory birds,” he said.

The Provincial Government said Olango Island has been identified by the National Avian Influenza Surveillance Program as a “critical area for migratory birds.”

In 2017, H5N6 killed 37,000 birds and prompted authorities to cull more than 600,000 chickens in three towns in Central Luzon: San Luis in Pampanga and Jaen and San Isidro in Nueva Ecija.

On Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2020, Agriculture Secretary William Dar assured that the country is well-prepared, saying measures have been in place to prevent the entry of the disease fatal to birds and humans.

“The DA 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,” the DA said in a statement.

In 2019, the DA-BAI 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,” Dar said.

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.

Dar said a 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.

According to the Philippine Statistic Authority, the country has a total inventory of chicken estimated at 178.26 million birds, as of Jan. 1, 2020. (JOB)