Dominican Republic declares freedom from avian influenza as from 26 February 2015

Earlier this year, the Directorate General for Livestock (DIGEGA) of the Dominican Republic has declared the country free from avian influenza (AI).

Since 2006, the Dominican Republic has implemented an AI surveillance program based on passive surveillance with compulsory reporting for the early detection of AI. Active surveillance to confirm the absence of virus circulation as well as control and eradication measures were initiated and strengthened after the first detection of LPAI on a fighting cock on 10th December 2007, within the frame of AI surveillance of birds for exports. Active surveillance includes sampling of fighting cocks, backyard birds and birds in markets and in commercial bird farms in the whole country as well as wild, ornamental and migratory birds. The surveillance programs are accompanied by an AI emergency response plan and sufficient diagnostic capacity for identifying the influenza virus. For collect and transport of samples, in the past years DIGEGA trained about 100 veterinarians and veterinary assistants. All this work has been developed in close coordination and cooperation with the Dominican Poultry Association, the poultry farmers and poultry producers along with the Ministry of environment.

The H5N2virus identified by virus isolation and PCR in the only positive case was 95.5% compatible with the AI strain that was circulating in the USA since 1994. The event was closed in February 2009. Since then, no further occurrence of either LPAI or HPAI was detected.

Between 2006 and February 2014, 75,214 samples have been collected from birds and analysed. Apart from the asymptomatic cases in birds designated for export, that had tested positive in the laboratory in 2007, all the remaining samples analysed up to date of the report to the OIE (27th January 2015) have given negative results.

Therefore, considering surveillance programme and results, and given that more than 70 months of absence of virus circulation in the country, the Dominican Republic’s self-declared to the OIE a status freedom from AI.

Poultry farming is one of the Dominican Republic’s most important agricultural sub-sectors. It continues to grow steadily and is a great contributor to the national economy country (386 organised poultry producers with more than 10 million of poultry population 16 million broilers produced every month).

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