Singapore free from bird flu: AVA

SINGAPORE - The Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) has precautionary measures in place to keep the avian influenza (commonly known as bird flu) out of Singapore.

Singapore is currently free from it.

In light of recent reports of the influenza A (H7N9) situation in eastern China, AVA has stepped up its monitoring and surveillance.

Since 2004, with the emergence of bird flu in the region, AVA has a surveillance and monitoring programme in place. The H7 avian influenza virus has not been detected in tests on local and imported birds.

Monitoring of imported poultry and birds

To ensure food safety, the AVA says meat and meat products, including live poultry, can only be imported from accredited establishments/farms in approved countries which comply with bio-security requirements.

Only poultry and poultry products from bird flu-free zones are allowed. No poultry from China has been allowed for import since 2004. Only processed poultry products, which have been heat-treated to eliminate bird flu virus, are allowed to be imported from accredited establishments in mainland China.

As part of AVA's routine surveillance and inspection programme, AVA regularly monitors and samples imported poultry and eggs at points of entry to verify that supply farms are free from bird flu as well as to ensure that they are safe for consumption.

Ornamental birds can only be imported from bird flu-free countries, and must undergo a 21-day pre-export isolation in the country of export. The birds must be tested free from bird flu before import. Upon arrival in Singapore, the birds are checked again for clinical signs of diseases, and samples are taken for bird flu, among other diseases.

Monitoring of local poultry farms and birds

Local poultry slaughterhouses, poultry farms and ornamental bird farms are also closely monitored. Farms are required to ensure that biosecurity measures, such as disinfection and bird-proofing of bird sheds, are in place. As an added precaution, the public are not allowed to visit local poultry farms.

AVA conducts regular inspections at all pet shops that sell birds. During these inspections, samples are taken to test for bird flu. AVA officers would also look for signs of clinical disease and check documentation for traceability.

In addition, AVA has a surveillance programme in place for wild birds in the wetlands reserves (Pulau Ubin and Sungei Buloh) and public parks, such as the Singapore Botanic Gardens. Samples are collected from wild birds to test for bird flu.

AVA assures the public that poultry and poultry imports sold in Singapore are safe for consumption. AVA will continue to maintain vigilance and monitor the situation closely.

spanaech@sph.com.sg

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