IMPORTS of poultry products from Japan have been banned after an outbreak there of H5N1 highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI), or bird flu, according to the Department of Agriculture (DA).

In a memorandum order, the DA said that shipments of domestic and wild birds, poultry meat, day-old chicks, eggs, and semen from Japan were suspended starting Jan. 17.

Japan’s Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries reported an outbreak of HPAI to the World Organization for Animal Health on Nov. 28.

“The Japanese agency’s report showed an outbreak of the H5N1 strain (among) wild and domesticated birds on Nov. 24 in Kashima City in Saga Prefecture,” the DA said.

Sanitary and phytosanitary import permit processing for poultry products from Japan has also been suspended.

“Only wild birds, poultry and poultry products imported from Japan that are already in transit, loaded and accepted on or before Nov. 10, will be allowed entry into the Philippines,” the DA said.

It added that poultry shipped out after Nov. 10 would either be returned to the country of origin, or confiscated and destroyed.

In August, the DA lifted the temporary ban on Japanese poultry products after an earlier Japanese outbreak of bird flu was deemed “negligible.”

Japan had resolved 84 cases, with no additional cases of avian influenza reported after the August outbreak.

This year, the DA has banned poultry imports from France, Belgium, and the US states of Ohio and California after outbreaks of HPAI. — Adrian H. Halili