Agriculture bans South Africa poultry imports

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The Department of Agriculture (DA) has temporarily suspended the importation of poultry and other poultry products from South Africa because of reported avian influenza outbreak.

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In Memorandum Order 25, Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala ordered the temporary ban on the importation of domestic and wild birds—including poultry meat, day-old chicks, eggs and semen—originating from Western Cape province in South Africa to protect the Philippines’ local poultry population, as well as human health.

Based on the report of Dr. Bothe Michael Modisane, chief director of the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Animal Production and Health of South Africa, they discovered a sub-clinical infection of low pathogenic avian influenza in a commercial ostrich farm in Oudshoorn, Western Cape province.

The low pathogenic avian influenza serotype H7N7 was classified as serotype H5 and H7.

“The LPAI serotype H7N7 was confirmed through real-time polymerase chain reaction conducted by the Agricultural Research Council-Onderstepro of Veterinary Institute,” Modisane said.

Avian influenza is a highly contagious viral disease affecting several species of food producing birds (chickens, turkeys, quails, guinea fowl, etc.) as well as pet birds and wild birds. In its notifiable form, the disease can be divided into two categories—the high and low pathogenecity.

Highly pathogenic avian influenza virus spreads rapidly, may cause serious disease and result in high mortality rates (up to 100 percent within 48 hours). The low pathogenic avian influenza (LPAI) can cause mild disease that may be undetected or have no symptoms at all in some species of birds.

In line with the ban, Alcala ordered the immediate suspension of the processing and evaluation of the application and issuance of veterinary quarantine clearance on the importation of poultry products from Western Cape province.

He also mandated the agriculture department’s veterinary quarantine officers or inspectors in all major ports to halt and confiscate all shipments of poultry and poultry products from the African country. Heat-treated products are exempted from the ban.

James Konstantin Galvez

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