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Money set aside for urgent cases of animal sickness

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This year, the Department of Agriculture (DA) has allotted PHP177.78 million to strengthen disease prevention and control programs for livestock and pets and to stop the spread of the Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) virus throughout the nation.

The DA-Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) said in a news statement on Thursday that the government would implement mitigation measures through the Avian Influenza Protection Program both before and during bird flu outbreaks.

The money will also be utilized to respond to sudden outbreaks of animal diseases through accurate laboratory tests and early detection.

In the interim, the DA-BAI will carry out disease investigation activities, surveillance of quarantine zones, and systematic culling and disposal of afflicted poultry animals at the first indication of detection in conjunction with the local government units (LGUs) and various stakeholders.

In order to prevent an increase in bird flu cases, the DA-BAI Associate Director Arlene Asteria Vytiaco said they have already strengthened control procedures.

“We are intensifying our control measures to avoid a similar incident that occurred last year when cases increased from February through March and into April,” Vytiaco said. “Ini-intensify natin ang ating control measures para huwag ng maranasan ‘yung last year na talagang tumaas ang kaso natin from February until March to April.”

After learning that a layer poultry farm in Santa Maria, Bulacan tested positive for HPAI Subtype H5N1 on January 31, 2023, the DA-BAI promptly put into place depopulation, rigorous surveillance in the one-kilometer quarantine zone, as well as cleaning and disinfection, she continued.

The Bulacan farm, according to Vytiaco, is the first layer farm this year to be impacted by avian flu, but he highlighted that the situation has been managed and confined.

To verify that the area is AI-free, surveillance will be extended from the contaminated farm’s one-kilometer radius to seven kilometers.

In order for us to promptly contain the disease, she stated, “We greatly advocate self-reporting or early reporting.”

To safeguard the nation’s poultry business, she continued, tight and effective protocol implementation is also being done.

In addition, Vytiaco stressed how crucial it is to follow strong biosecurity procedures, particularly in farms, as the nation has not yet been clear of AI since the epidemic in February 2022.

She also urged farm employees and owners to employ bird-proofing techniques, limit farm visitation, and frequently practice cleaning and disinfection.

Early notification of atypical death is also essential for controlling the spread of illness.

“Please, I urge you to report any signs of sakit or fatality as soon as possible to the appropriate authorities. Puwede sa municipal or barangay level. I kindly ask that you report as soon as possible to our authorities in order to help our authorities track down and control the disease and begin an investigation into it. As long as we report them, we can investigate the sickness immediately and contain it at the municipal or barangay level, according to Vytiaco.

In order to stop the introduction of the HPAI virus into the nation, the DA earlier issued a memorandum order temporarily banning the importation of domestic and wild birds as well as poultry products from nations with confirmed AI virus outbreaks.

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