The Department of Agriculture Cordillera (DA-CAR) continues to conduct bi-annual monitoring and surveillance of areas earlier identified as high-risk areas for the Avian Influenza (AI) even as the DA has declared Benguet Province to be free from AI.

Dr. Karl Glenn Kigis of the Livestock Program of DA-CAR explained that timely actions and interventions are undertaken if a resurgence of AI may be experienced.

Initial cases of AI infections were detected in various fowls, including layer and native chickens, ducks, turkeys, and geese between February and September 2022 in Baguio City and the municipalities of Atok, Buguias, Itogon, La Trinidad, Sablan, and Tuba.

“Together with the Bureau of Animal Industry, DA-CAR, the Provincial, City, and Municipal Veterinary offices we will continue to conduct monitoring and surveillance initiatives to ensure that no resurgence of the viral strain would re-occur,” Kigis said.

The DA-CAR and the other agencies involved conducted immediate depopulation, cleaning and disinfection, mobility restrictions, and surveillance in the areas surrounding the affected farms including stricter biosecurity measures as part of their joint efforts, which yielded negative results leading the DA to declare the province free from the viral strain.

The standard method of controlling AI outbreaks is the testing and culling of all infected poultry and the setting up of concentric control areas around the infected flock.

The AI circulating in Eurasia and Africa emerged in China around 1997 but only infected terrestrial birds during that time.

Avian Influenza commonly known as “bird flu” is a disease primarily affecting birds and is caused by a virus of the Orthomyxovindae family.// Jonathan T. Llanes