THE Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) has further tightened its rules and regulations on poultry industries in the country to curb the spread of bird flu that has affected at least seven provinces this year.
The BAI, an attached bureau of the Department of Agriculture (DA), issued Memorandum Circulars (MC) 9 and 10 that seek to further strengthen the government’s efforts against bird flu.
The bureau’s MC 9 ordered the resumption of avian influenza (AI) testing for transport requirement and renewal of poultry layer farm, poultry breeder farm and gamefowl farm certification.
“In light of the recent outbreaks of AI in the country, testing shall be enforced for the purposes of renewal of poultry layer farm, poultry breeder farm and gamefowl farm certification and bi-annual AI monitoring,” the document read.
“Said animal facilities are still subjected to the mandatory bi-annual inspection to be conducted by the local government veterinary services,” the document added.
The MC 9 stipulated that farm owners must submit an inspection report and AI negative results for the issuance of farm certification, which is also known as the animal disease monitoring compliance certificate.
“All other avian species are still subjected to testing for the purposes of local movement, farm registration and disease monitoring,” it read. The BAI also issued MC 10 that suspended the issuance of pigeon club animal disease monitoring compliance certificates until Department of Agriculture (DA) MC 5 and 6, Series of 2022, are lifted.
The BAI issued MC 10 after it received reports of continuous “pigeon transport, racing, training and breeding” despite temporary suspension under DA MC 5 and 6.
The DA MC 5 and 6 outlined the rules and regulations on the local movement of domestic and wild birds, poultry products as well as domestic and captured wild ornamental birds and their poultry products. (Related story: businessmirror.com.ph/2022/03/02/da-tells-raisers-to-follow-rules-ontransporting-chicken)
However, “despite the above issuances, numerous reports have been received by the Bureau on pigeon transport, racing, training and breeding,” the document read.
Earlier, Agriculture Secretary William D. Dar called on local government units (LGUs) to strengthen efforts against bird flu as the DA confirmed outbreaks in areas as far as Benguet and Sultan Kudarat.
The BAI earlier confirmed cases of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) subtype H5N1 in the provinces of Sultan Kudarat and Benguet. These are the two latest provinces to have confirmed bird flu outbreaks after Nueva Ecija, Bataan, Tarlac, Pampanga and Bulacan.
DA-BAI Director Reildrin G. Morales said the possible reasons behind the spread of the virus were migratory birds and illegal movement of infected birds from areas with confirmed bird flu outbreaks.
“The possible sources of infection and spread of the virus in those areas are the presence of migratory or resident wild birds, late or non-reporting of suspect cases [sick/dying birds], and illegal movement of infected birds from H5N1 infected areas as per disease investigation conducted by veterinary authorities,” Morales explained.
Dar has sounded the alarm that the government must “act immediately” to “prevent further spread and damage” of bird flu to the country’s poultry industry.
Dar urged the LGUs to report suspected bird flu cases immediately to the national government to ensure swift actions and containment.
In its latest report to the OIE, the Philippines confirmed four outbreaks of HPAI H5N1 in Sultan Kudarat, affecting 3,205 birds, mostly ducks. The latest report showed that 3,136 birds were culled by the government in four barangays in Tacurong City to contain the outbreak, while 69 birds died due to bird flu.
With its latest report, the Philippines has already culled a total of 49,580 birds, mostly quails and ducks, to contain the spread of HPAI H5N1, which was first confirmed in the country in February. (Related story: businessmirror.com.ph/2022/02/22/phl-reports-new-avian-flu-outbreaks-in-central-luzon-farms)
The Philippines has also recently confirmed its first-ever outbreak of HPAI H5N8. (Related story: businessmirror.com.ph/2022/03/28/ducks-quails-culled-to-prevent-spread-of-avian-flu)