PHL on track to regaining bird flu-free status by year-end

The Philippines may regain its bird flu-free status before the end of the year, as the government would soon be able to complete the roll out of all the necessary measures to manage the avian-influenza (AI) virus.

The Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) is planning to notify the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) that the Philippines is already bird flu-free by December 20, more than four months after the virus was discovered in some towns in Central Luzon.

“International bodies like the OIE [requires official report] so we can regain our bird flu-free status. Our target is to inform them by December 20,” BAI Officer in Charge Ronnie D. Domingo told reporters in an interview at the sidelines of the launching of the Department of Agriculture’s (DA)  Karne, Isda, Supply Suporta sa Masama at Ekonomiya  project on Wednesday.

“We will inform them that we have already conducted disinfection procedures and have controlled the movement of animals,” Domingo added.

The BAI official said the OIE recognizes a country as bird flu-free once it does not report any new outbreaks 90 days after the last disinfection of affected areas. In the case of the Philippines, it would fall on December 20.

“The OIE does not give official recognition. What is important that we report to them 90 days after our last disinfection so that our report will come out in the OIE database that the Philippines is already cleared of the AI,” he said.

“What our trading partners want to see is that we did something to arrest the problem,” Domingo added.

The newly appointed BAI chief said the government is set to deploy sentinel birds in AI-affected farms in Jaen and San Isidro in Nueva Ecija, and San Luis, Pampanga this week.

“The 35-day observation period would start once the sentinel birds have been deployed. The deployment of sentinel birds is part of our interventions to ensure that an area is totally free of AI,” Domingo said.

The deployment of sentinel birds is a biosecurity measure indicated in the government’s AI Protection Program Manual of Procedures (AIPP MOP), which serves as the bible-like guide of the DA on how to address bird flu.

Under the AIPP MOP, the sentinel birds, which will be grown and observed in the AI-affected areas, must test negative for bird flu to ensure that the area is free from the virus.

Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol earlier told reporters that the DA has not received any new reports of bird-flu outbreaks in the country since he declared in
September that the bird-flu crisis is over.

Poultry growers are slowly regaining their footing as data from the BAI showed the farm-gate price of broiler continued to recover, and breached P92 per kilogram (kg) in the third week of October.

Data from the BAI obtained by the BusinessMirror showed that the farm-gate price of broiler as of October 23 reached P92.56 per kg, slightly higher than the P92.07 per kg recorded on October 16.

The highest recorded farm-gate price during the reference period was P94 per kg, while the lowest was at P91 per kg, according to BAI data.

On a monthly basis, the P92.56-per-kg farm-gate price was 68.08 percent higher than the P55.07 per kg recorded on September 22, BAI data showed.