May 23, 2024

Despite being declared as avian influenza-free by the Department of Agriculture, Benguet still has its guard up against the virus. 

Provincial Veterinarian (OpVet) Purita Lesing said her office continuously conducts surveillance and monitors cases in the 13 towns. 

“We collect samples from the different areas every six months which are submitted to the National Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory,” Lesing said. 

Earlier, the province recorded 11 confirmed cases of avian influenza subtype H5N1.

The cases were detected in Baguio City, and the towns of Atok, Buguias, Itogon, La Trinidad, Sablan, Tublay in 2022. The bird flu-affected duck, native chicken, game fowl, culled broiler breeder, turkey, and goose were from backyard farmers in the province.      

The OpVet then coordinated with the concerned city and municipal governments, DA, and the Bureau of Animal Industry to conduct disease investigation, immediate depopulation, cleaning and disinfection, and movement restrictions in the affected areas. 

The OpVet also conducted disease monitoring in the one-kilometer and seven-kilometer surveillance zones surrounding the affected farms, which yielded negative test results for the bird flu. 

Last month, the DA through a memorandum has declared Benguet as avian influenza-free after the province and multi-agencies helped in applying effective disease control measures without delay.  

“More than 90 days have elapsed since the end of the cleaning and disinfection operations and that surveillance activities yielded negative avian influenza test results,” the memorandum circular stated. 

Benguet recently provided a P2 million assistance to avian influenza and African swine fever-affected farmers, as well as calamity-stricken farmers. 

Lesing reminded the public especially the farmers to buy avian meat and live poultry to reputable sources for their own protection. – Ofelia C. Empian