Philippines calls for vigilance against bird flu spread

MANILA, March 30 (Xinhua) -- The Philippines' Department of Agriculture ordered Wednesday stricter control and containment measures to stem the spread of bird flu amid outbreaks in four provinces.

People hold illuminated sticks as they gather in Rizal Park to mark the Earth Hour environmental campaign in Manila on March 26, 2022. (Photo: AFP)

The agriculture department said the outbreaks have affected duck and quail farms in the provinces of Bulacan and Pampanga, north of Manila, and Laguna and Camarines Sur, south of Manila.

Four other provinces also reported confirmed H5N1 cases, namely Nueva Ecija, Bataan, Tarlac, Benguet on the main Luzon island and Sultan Kudarat in southern Philippines.

"We need to act immediately to control avian influenza to prevent further spread and damage to our poultry industry," Agriculture Secretary William Dar said in a statement.

The department has issued a memorandum that regulates the movement of live birds such as ducks, quails, chicken, and other poultry commodities in affected areas, particularly those coming from within the one-km quarantine area.

"Farm owners must comply with the transport requirements in compliance with the prescribed surveillance period, diagnostics test, and biosecurity protocol of the World Health Organisation to mitigate the virus' animal and public health risks," Bureau of Animal Industry Director Reildren Morales said.

Veterinaries blamed the H5N1 outbreaks on the presence of migratory or resident wild birds, late or non-reporting of suspect cases of sick or dying birds, and illegal movement of infected birds.