By Tracy Cabrera
AS if the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and African Swine Fever are not enough, a strain of a highly-pathogenic avian influenza has been detected in a poultry farm in Pampanga, according to the Department of Agriculture (DA).
Citing a report from the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI), the DA confirmed the presence of the avian flu strain, specifically A(H5N6), was detected in a egg-producing farm in San Luis town, some 24 kilometers east of San Fernando.
In a statement, the department said that upon confirmation of the report, a composite team of veterinarians and animal health officers from its field office in Central Luzon and Pampanga was immediately sent to the area to apply emergency control measures and conduct disease surveillance around the infected farm to arrest the spread of A(H5N6).
“The team humanely culled a total of 38,701 head of layers and disposed off them properly, employing the protocols under the Avian Influenza Protection Program of the Philippine Government,” DA-BAI director Ronnie Domingo said in his report to agriculture secretary William Dar.
Domingo assured that all personnel involved in the disease control measure were strictly monitored. It added that the avian disease has not been reported and detected among broilers, which is the primary source of poultry meat.
The official said that early reporting, detection and strong multi-agency collaboration “paved the way for the rapid and effective response in the management of the A(H5N6) incidence.”
Initial field investigation showed the presence in San Luis of migratory birds, which has been associated with bird flu outbreaks in many countries, including the Philippines.
Domingo said the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has identified 117 important bird areas (IBA) in the country, and about 150,000 migratory birds nest and breed annually in Central Luzon.
“The DA-BAI, therefore, urges poultry raisers in Central Luzon and in traditional IBAs to protect and shield their farms from the entry of migratory birds, and more importantly immediately report any unusual poultry mortalities,” he said