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Gov’t to watch shipments from bird flu-hit countries

Posted on September 05, 2011

INCOMING bird and poultry shipments from countries affected by the highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) will be seized and destroyed given concerns of a resurgence, the government said.

The Agriculture department last Friday announced heightened surveillance at all ports of entry as well as the confiscation plan in a bid to keep the country free of the avian disease, which in some cases has been transmitted and proved deadly to humans.

The department released an August 31 memorandum signed by Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala where Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) quarantine personnel were told to be on the watch for products such as poultry meat, day-old chicks, eggs and semen coming from bird flu-affected countries.

The National Meat Inspection Service was likewise told to intensify inspections of goods in cold storage.

Products found to have come from countries with HPAI, “including those that are already displayed in the market shall be subject to confiscation and disposition...,” Mr. Alcala said.

A BAI memorandum issued on the same day ordered quarantine officers to confiscate and destroy poultry and poultry products coming from China, Vietnam and other affected countries.

The Philippines, said BAI director Efren C. Nuestro, is currently “not importing from China, Vietnam, Thailand, Korea, Cambodia and other avian influenza affected countries”.

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) last week issued a statement calling on countries to guard against a possible major resurgence of the disease.

FAO chief veterinary officer Juan Lubroth said bird migration had led to the spread of the virus, which has now been found in Israel, the Palestinian territories, Bulgaria, Romania, Nepal and Mongolia. A variant that evades defenses provided by existing vaccines has been found in China and Vietnam, he added.

According to the FAO website, other countries affected by the bird flu virus are Bangladesh, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Japan, the Republic of Korea and Cambodia. -- L. D. Desiderio