DA orders strict measures to contain bird flu outbreak in duck, quail farms in Luzon

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 29) --- The Department of Agriculture on Tuesday ordered tighter measures to contain bird flu after outbreaks were confirmed in some parts of the country.

In a statement, the department said that avian influenza or H5N1 outbreaks were initially confirmed in duck and quail farms in Bulacan, Pampanga, Laguna, and Camarines Sur.

Meanwhile, DA-Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) Director Dr. Reildrin Morales said in a text message that there were also confirmed outbreaks in Nueva Ecija and Sultan Kudarat.

The DA has issued Memorandum Circular No. 5 which regulates the movement of ducks, quails, chicken, and other poultry commodities in affected areas, particularly those coming from within the 1-kilometer quarantine area.

“The avian influenza virus detected is of subtype H5N1, which is also a threat to human health. This is the very reason we have to double our efforts in controlling and containing bird flu, and we can accomplish this through cooperation – especially those who are engaged in poultry production,” Agriculture Secretary William Dar said.

Morales said "farm owners must comply with the transport requirements in compliance with the prescribed surveillance period, diagnostic tests, and biosecurity protocol of the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE). This is to mitigate animal and public health risks posed by the virus."

Morales said that the DA-BAI has been coordinating with the local government units and conducting surveillance with the Department of Health in all affected areas.

To date, the Department of Health has not detected any reports of H5N1 transmission to people.

The DA has also issued Memorandum Circular No. 6, Series of 2022 that provides guidelines on the movement of live birds, poultry products and by-products from Luzon to MIMAROPA, Visayas, and Mindanao.

Morales said that there were also confirmed cases of H5N1 reported in Bataan, Tarlac, and Benguet. He also said most of the affected poultry animals are ducks and quails.

“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,” the DA said.

H5N1 is the predominant strain in almost all poultry outbreaks in 2021 and 2022, Morales said.