THE Department of Agriculture (DA) has banned imports of Polish domestic and wild birds and their by-products following an outbreak there of the H5N8 variety of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI), also known as bird flu.

In memorandum order no. 5, series of 2020, Agriculture Secretary William D. Dar laid out measures against imports of such products from Poland.

The ban extends to ”poultry meat, day-old chicks, eggs, and semen” and calls for the “immediate suspension of the processing, evaluation of the application and issuance of Sanitary and Phytosanitary import clearance (SPSIC) to the commodities,” as well as the termination and confiscation of imports of such products, except heat-treated products, by the DA Veterinary Quarantine Officer at all major ports of entry.

Frozen poultry meat slaughtered or processed 21 days prior to the outbreaks are allowed to enter the Philippines but are subject to veterinary quarantine rules and regulations, and are subject to the conditions under Article 10.4.19, 10.4.20, and 10.4.26 of the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) Terrestrial Animal Health Code (2019).

Based on the report submitted to the OIE by Poland’s chief veterinary officer with its Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, the outbreak was detected on Dec. 31. The disease previously occurred in Poland in 2017. As of Jan. 22, there were six outbreaks recorded, as confirmed by the National Veterinary Research Institute of Poland.

In the Philippines, the last outbreak of bird flu was in August 2017, with the first case in San Luis, Pampanga, which later reached five neighboring farms. Indications of the occurrence of the virus were observed in April that year. Upon the confirmation of the outbreak, 200,000 chickens, quails, and ducks were culled. — Vincent Mariel P. Galang