The World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) has declared the Philippines free from avian influenza or bird flu less than a year since the fatal animal disease crept back into the poultry farms of the country.
As of January 8, the country is now free of the last remaining A (H5N6) strain of the Avian Influenza (AI), the Department of Agriculture’s (DA) Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) announced on Tuesday.
The OIE declaration came less than a year since A (H5N6) was detected in a commercial layer poultry farm in Pampanga and backyard poultry farms in a village in Rizal.
In its report to the OIE, BAI said the affected farms showed no further evidence of the presence of the AI virus during the monitoring and surveillance.
“We had not detected any case of 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 outgoing BAI Director Ronnie Domingo.
The recurrence of A(H5N6) was confirmed by the BAI’s Animal Disease Diagnosis and Reference Laboratory on July 10, 2020, after the owner of the 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, as reported by a farmer on August 26, 2020, to the municipal veterinary office of Taytay.
The backyard farm had approximately 500 head of free-range chicken and 300 head of Muscovy ducks. The clinical signs – such as wry neck or torticollis, cyanosis of extremities, and death – were observed since August 10, 2020.
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.
“We appreciate the rapid response and collaboration of the local government units of Pampanga and Rizal and DA Regional Field Offices III and IV-A,” BAI said.
The agency also thanked the affected farmers for their prompt reporting that led to the early containment of the disease.
To recall, the Philippines also reported bird flu outbreak cases in 2017 and in 2018.
BAI reminded poultry farmers and industry stakeholders to remain vigilant and report any unusual mortalities to their respective farm veterinarians or nearest government veterinary or agriculture office.