Aggie department lifts ban on bird, poultry imports from Belgium

MANILA––Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap has scrapped the temporary ban on imports of birds, poultry and their products from Belgium following confirmation from global animal health authorities that such commodities originating from that country are now free of the Avian Influenza (AI) or bird flu virus.

Yap declared the entry of these products into the country, including poultry meat, day old chicks, eggs and semen, as safe after an evaluation made by the Department of Agricuture’s (DA) Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) showed that “the risk of the contamination from importing poultry and poultry products from Belgium is negligible.”

BAI had based its evaluation on the confirmation by the Office International des Epizooties (OIE) of the report by Brussels ’ Federal Agency for the Safety of the Food Chain (FASFC) declaring “that the H5N2 low pathogenic avian influenza (LPAI) incident in Belgium has been successfully eradicated.”

The report noted that “the cleaning and disinfection of the affected premises was completed on December 23, 2008 and that on-going surveillance has not detected any additional cases.”

As of April 17, 2009, the World Health Organization (WHO) recorded 257 human deaths out of the 418 confirmed cases of the bird flu since the highly pathogenic strain of the virus broke out in Southeast Asia in 2003.

Besides Singapore and Brunei, the Philippines is the only AI-free country in Southeast Asia.

Earlier, Yap also lifted the ban on imports of all birds, poultry and their products from the US State of Idaho after the OIE validated the report of the state’s National Surveillance Unit Epidemiologist, Dr. Stan Bruntz that bird flu had been eradicated in the area. A report from the Philippine News Agency

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