DA optimistic on bird flu decrease

The Department of Agriculture is confident that the country will be free from the highly pathogenic avian influenza H5N1 strain affecting the poultry industry by the end of the year.
Bureau of Animal Industry OIC and assistant director for production and research Jonathan Sabiano disclosed that the disease had become more manageable on the back of stronger government support.

He added that there is a significant decline in the cases of bird flu nationwide.

“Given the reduction in bird flu cases, we are hopeful that we will achieve the bird flu-free status before the end of the year,” Sabiano told reporters, adding that only Cordillera Administrative Region and Region 3 have active cases.

However, Sabiano did not disclose further details on the existing number of cases due to absence of an “updated report” from the BAI.

To date, the DA has so far culled 1.4 million heads as part of the BAI’s immediate disease investigation or the so-called “traceback or trace forward” surveillance within the one-kilometer quarantine zone of the infected farms.

Meanwhile, Dr. Ruth Miclat Sinaco, director of the DA’s National Livestock Program, said the government is set to release about P27.5 million to the BAI “anytime soon” to bankroll its control and prevention efforts to ward off the disease.

“We will be giving P27.5 million to BAI anytime soon, the agency is also ensured of a budget for that until next year. Right now, however, the BAI is concerned with all the economically important diseases, even Foot and Mouth Disease virus due to threats from Indonesia,” Sinaco said.

The DA-BAI confirmed the resurgence of the H5N1 strain in a duck farm in Baliuag, Bulacan, and quail farms in Candaba and Mexico, Pampanga in February this year. It was only over a year after the World Organization for Animal Health declared the Philippines free of the last remaining strain of avian influenza on 8 January 2021.

The country resolved the disease outbreaks in a commercial layer poultry farm in Pampanga and backyard poultry farms in a village in Rizal less than a year after the virus reemerged in the country in 2020.

To recall, the Philippines also resolved bird flu outbreak cases in 2017 and 2018.

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