Just a month and a half after the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) declared the Philippines free of the last remaining A(H5N6) strain of the Avian Influenza as of January 8, the Philippines Department of Agriculture (DA) report four outbreaks–one in a backyard quail farm in Mexico, Pampanga, two commercial quail farms in Candaba, Pampanga, and one commercial duck farm in Baliuag, Bulacan.
“We immediately carried out the needed protocol to effectively contain avian influenza that was detected in ducks and quails in Baliuag, Bulacan, and Candaba and Mexico in Pampanga — aimed mainly at preventing it from spreading to other areas,” said Agriculture Secretary William Dar.
The DA-BAI confirmed the Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) H5N1 strain through its Animal Disease Diagnosis and Reference Laboratory (BAI-ADDRL) using Real Time-Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR).
DA-BAI Director Reildrin Morales said they are continuously conducting surveillance activities on all poultry species, and that there is no reported occurrence of said disease in chickens and turkeys.
He said the disease was first detected on January 6, 2022, from a duck farm, in Barangay Barangka, Baliuag, Bulacan, through routine surveillance activities implemented by DA-BAI as part of its early warning system.
The second was reported on January 21, 2022, from two commercial quail farms, in Brgy. Dalayap, Candaba, Pampanga; and on January 27, 2022, from a quail farm, in Brgy. Mangga, Candaba, Pampanga.
The third case was reported on February 11, 2022, from two adjacent quail farms in Brgy. San Antonio, Mexico, Pampanga.
Upon confirmation, Morales said the DA-BAI with the respective municipal veterinary authorities promptly culled and properly disposed of all birds in affected quail and duck farms.
Following the established protocol under the Avian Influenza Preparedness Plan (AIPP), they also conducted an immediate disease investigation (trace back/trace forward), surveillance in the one-kilometer quarantine zone around the infected farms, and informed the concerned local government units (LGUs) of Pampanga and Bulacan, and the Department of Health (DOH), so that coordinated action can be undertaken to avoid the risk of transmission to humans.
“We enjoin all poultry raisers and farm workers to observe and implement necessary biosecurity measures and cooperate with temporary movement restrictions that may be applied in affected areas to prevent incursion of the disease in their facilities/farms,” Secretary Dar said.
“We assure the general public that the risk to catch H5N1 virus is very low. Poultry meat and its products are safe to eat,” the DA chief said.