PH now bird flu-free but monitoring another strain

PH now bird flu-free but monitoring another strain

A man tends to a poultry farm somewhere in Central Luzon in this file photo.

By Tracy Cabrera

MANILA — Though already declared free of the highly pathogenic H5N6 bird flu virus, the country now faces another strain of the flu virus which has been detected coming from a number of European countries and also from the Korean peninsula.

On Tuesday, January 19, Department of Agriculture (DA) disclosed that the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) has declared the Philippines as of January 8 “clear of the last remaining A(H5N6) strain of the avian Influenza.”

“Counting on massive efforts to eliminate the virus, the agriculture department has succeeded in resolving the outbreaks in Pampanga province and a village in Rizal, near the capital region,” the DA said in a statement.

But the agency added that despite the success, they were still not dropping its guard against the disease,.

Agriculture officials had imposed a temporary ban on the importation of domestic and wild birds and their products from France, South Korea, the Netherlands, and Poland, where another highly pathogenic strain—H5N8—has been detected.

The Philippines is among the world’s biggest meat importers and consumers, with chicken, pork and beef all a mainstay in the Filipino diet.

In a report to the OIE, the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) said the affected farms in Pampanga and Rizal had shown no further evidence of the presence of the H5N6 virus.

“We had not detected any case…among the poultry and other bird populations in the last 90 days after the completion of cleaning and disinfection in the affected farms,” BAI Director Ronnie Domingo announced.

Avian flu outbreaks are a recurring concern for the agriculture department and the local poultry industry, having recorded outbreak cases in 2017 and 2018. (AI/MTVN)

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