May 23, 2024

The Department of Agriculture said there is no need to ban milk from the United States despite the outbreak of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) among dairy cattle in the said country.

“The movement of AI from birds to cattle is not a big issue. At this point in time, we’re working on it, studying it, but we’re not going to ban it,” DA Asec. Constante Palabrica said.

“If you pasteurize the milk, the AI has no more effect, and milk from infected cow cannot infect humans,” he said.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (USFDA) earlier reported additional results on the national commercial milk sampling study, which involved the test of 297 dairy samples in the market.

“New preliminary results of egg inoculation tests on a second set of 201 quantitative polymerase chain reaction-positive retail dairy samples, including cottage cheese and sour cream, in addition to fluid milk, show that pasteurization is effective in inactivating HPAI,” it said in a statement on May 1.

The USFDA also reaffirmed the safety of commercial milk, considering the earlier test conducted using 96 retail milk samples.

Meanwhile, Palabrica said the incidence of AI infecting cattle may not happen in the Philippines.

“In our case, we have very few instances where we will have migratory birds and AI-infected chickens that will infect our cattle, especially since we don’t have dairy cattle,” he said.

The DA also vowed to further intensify programs to combat zoonotic diseases including AI, rabies, foot and mouth disease (FMD), and anthrax, following its formal acceptance of the leadership for the Philippine Inter-Agency Committee on Zoonoses from the Department of Health.

Besides the DOH, the DA shall also coordinate closely with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources in the said committee.

Although the country remains FMD-free, Palabrica said the DA is ramping up efforts to either purchase or come up with vaccines against it.

The FMD is one of the emerging diseases considered harmful in the livestock sector. – PNA