The Department of Agriculture (DA), under the administration of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., reaffirmed its commitment to stop the spread of the Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) virus in the country by reinforcing disease control measures.
For 2023, the DA-Bureau of Animal Industry (DA-BAI) has allotted a P177.78 million in funds for the government’s Avian Influenza Protection Program that will roll-out mitigating measures before and during outbreaks of bird flu.
The fund, which is higher than the allocation in past years, will also be used to respond to animal disease emergencies through early detection and reliable laboratory diagnostics.
Aside from continuously establishing close coordination with the local government units ( LGUs) and stakeholders, DA-BAI will carry on disease investigation activities and surveillance of quarantine zones and will systematically conduct culling and disposal of affected poultry animals at the first sign of detection.
DA-BAI Assistant Director Arlene Asteria Vytiaco stressed that the bureau has reinforced control measures to avoid a spike in bird flu cases.
According to Vytiaco, DA-BAI has immediately implemented depopulation, intensive surveillance in the 1-kilometer quarantine zone as well as cleaning and disinfection at a layer poultry farm in Santa Maria, Bulacan after confirming it tested positive of HPAI Subtype H5N1 on Jan. 31, 2023.
“Ini-intensify natin ang ating control measures para huwag nang maranasan ’yong last year na talagang tumaas ang kaso natin ng February until March to April,” she stressed.
Vytiaco added that the Bulacan farm is the first layer poultry farm affected by bird flu this year, but the case has been resolved and contained.
After the 1-kilometer radius surveillance from the infected farm, it will be expanded to 7-kilometer surveillance to ensure that the area is AI free.
“We really encourage self-reporting or early reporting para po ma-contain na agad natin ’yong sakit.”
“We really encourage self-reporting or early reporting para po ma-contain na agad natin ’yong sakit,” Vytiaco said.
The DA-BAI is also closely working with partners in LGUs, DA-Regional Field Offices (RFOs), and private sector stakeholders for the strict and effective protocol implementation to protect the country’s poultry industry.
“The Philippines is not yet AI free, so all farm owners should practice strict biosecurity measures.”
“Sa mga farms po kasi, for AI talagang ang pinakamahalaga po is iyong biosecurity, para wag tayong tamaan especially may mga detections pa rin tayo ng AI. The Philippines is not yet AI free, so all farm owners should practice strict biosecurity measures,” she explained.
Vytiaco also encouraged farm owners and workers to regularly practice cleaning and disinfection, limiting farm visitors, and doing bird proofing strategies.
In addition, she stressed that early reporting of unusual mortality is key to managing the risk of further infection.
“Any sign po ng sakit or mortality, please, I encourage you na sana po report early sa ating authorities. Puwede sa barangay or municipal level. Basta makapag-report po tayo para maisagawa natin ang mabilisang disease investigation at ma-contain agad natin yung sakit,” Vytiaco pointed out.
The DA has earlier issued memorandum orders to temporarily ban the importation of domestic and wild birds and poultry products from countries with confirmed AI virus outbreak to prevent the entry of HPAI virus in the country.
According to Vytiaco, the presence of migratory birds that are common at this time of the year was also identified as a risk factor as they can affect the local poultry population with the virus from infected countries.
Since the outbreak in February 2022, the Philippines is yet to regain its status as AI free.