Temporary bird import ban lifted

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The Department of Agriculture (DA) has lifted a temporary ban on importation of poultry and other poultry products from Canada and Turkey after confirmation by global animal health authorities that these countries were already free from bird flu virus.

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In a report submitted to the Office International des Epizooties (OIE), Dr. Martine Dubuc, chief food safety officer of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, said the highly pathogenic avian influenza outbreak in the country has been put under control.

“Cleaning and disinfection following stamping out of all the infected and exposed birds in the affected establishments was carried out and appropriate surveillance was conducted to demonstrate that the outbreak of HPAI H5N2 has been contained and eradicated,” Dubuc said.

Meanwhile, Dr. Irfan Erol, director general of Turkey’s Food and Control-Ministry of Food Agriculture and Livestock, said the avian virus spread in Ankara has also been resolved in compliance with the terrestrial animal health code of OIE.

Both officials said no further cases have been reported in their respective countries, adding that that the risk of contamination from importing poultry products from them is “negligible.”

In line with the completion of appropriate surveillance, containment and eradication of the disease, Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala ordered the immediate lifting of the ban on the importation of domestic and wild birds and their products—including poultry meat, day old chicks, eggs and semen—originating from Ontario, Canada and Ankara, Turkey.

He, however, said all import transactions of products should be in accordance with existing rules and regulations of the Bureau of Animal Industry and the National Meat Inspection Service.

The Agriculture department is regularly monitoring advisories from OIE to protect local bird population from threats of avian influenza, as well as to ensure safety of consumers.

The Philippines remains the only country in Southeast Asia free from highly pathogenic avian influenza or bird flu.

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—high pathogenecity and low pathogenecity.

HPAI 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 can cause mild disease that may be undetected or show no symptoms at all in some species of birds.

James Konstantin Galvez

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