Vets risk losing license over bird flu silence

MANILA — The Department of Agriculture (DA) will go after veterinarians who do not immediately inform authorities about the presence of avian influenza, also known as bird flu, in poultry farms they are managing.

“We’ll have their licenses revoked,” said DA Secretary Emmanuel Piñol, adding that veterinarians must report bird flu cases in their areas, so the government can address these accordingly, and as early as possible, to protect public health and the country’s poultry industry.

Bird flu hit the country anew this year, resulting in last month’s culling of poultry in a farm in Nueva Ecija province’s Cabiao municipality.

On Saturday, the DA-Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) confirmed the presence of bird flu in the area saying several samples from the farm had tested positive for the disease.

The bureau said authorities discussed the findings with the farm’s owner, who chose to immediately depopulate his poultry through culling.

It added the authorities subjected the farm to bird flu screening, after noting high mortality among ready-to-lay chicken there.

There was, however, no reported bird flu case among broiler chickens, it said.

The DA-BAI said surveillance is ongoing in accordance with the Avian Influenza Protection Program Manual of Procedures and World Organization for Animal Health guidelines.

Bird flu hit the Philippines for the first time middle of this year, affecting chicken in Nueva Ecija’s neighbor Pampanga province. The affected farms have not fully recovered yet, according to the bureau.

It is seeking the public’s cooperation in helping protect the Philippine poultry industry.