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The Philippines is now free of H5N6 bird flu, but by monitoring another species

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MANILA (Reuters) – The Philippines is now free of the highly pathogenic H5N6 bird flu virus, the Department of Agriculture said on Tuesday, citing a statement from the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE).

As of Jan. 8, the country is now free of the last remaining A (H5N6) type of Avian Influenza, having resolved outbreaks in Pampanga province and a village in Rizal, near the capital region, she said in a statement.

However, the Southeast Asian country, a major importer of chicken and other poultry products, was not giving up on the disease, he said.

The Department of Agriculture had imposed a temporary ban on the importation of domestic and wild birds and their products from France, South Korea, the Netherlands and Poland, where another highly pathogenic species – H5N8 – was detected.

The Philippines is among the largest importers and consumers of meat in the world, with chicken, pork and beef all a major pillar in the Filipino diet.

In a report to the OIE, the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) – an agency under the agriculture department – said the affected farms in Pampanga and Rizal had shown no further evidence of the presence of the H5N6 virus.

We had not detected any cases … between the birds and the other bird population in the last 90 days after the cleaning and disinfection on the affected farms was completed, said BAI Director Ronnie Domingo.

Avian flu outbreaks are a recurring concern for the agriculture department and local poultry industry, as they have recorded outbreaks in 2017 and 2018.

Reporting by Enrico Dela Cruz; Edited by Ed Davies

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