October 18, 2017, 3:45 pm
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Gov’t, industry calm nerves over bird flu

By J. MONTEMAYOR and J. MACAPAGAL

Government and industry move to calm the public’s woes over the avian flu outbreak in Pampanga.

Malacanang yesterday assured there would be no hike in the price of  chicken and that the bird flu has been  isolated and contained in an area in Pampanga.

Emmanuel  Piñol, secretary of the Department of Agriculture (DA)  the bird flu strain is one  that is not transmitted from chicken to humans since none of the farm workers from the affected areas have shown any signs of illness.

Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said government agencies are closely watching the quality and the price of poultry products in the markets  as well as at businesses that might take advantage of the situation.

Pinol also ordered a ban of the shipment of fowls from Luzon to other parts of the country to prevent the possibility of contaminated bird from slipping into other parts of the country to spread the virus.

Pinol said government is paying P80 per chicken culled, while a loan package has been prepared to enable poultry farmers to restart their business once the area has been cleared of the virus.

The Avian Influenza, Type A Sub-Type H5, has been confirmed as the cause of the deaths of about 37,000 fowls, mostly layer chicken, in San Luis, Pampanga.

DA reported that based on initial tests, none of the farm workers and residents of San Luis living near the area where the outbreak was recorded since April of this year have not shown any signs of illness. Samples for confirmatory tests were sent to Australia.

Pinol said the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI)has  declared a quarantine zone within a one kilometer radius of the farms where the outbreak was confirmed and an estimated 200,000 birds - chicken, ducks, quails, pigeons and fighting roosters – are being culled and will be buried, while the six farms where the outbreak occurred are being disinfected by quarantine oOfficers.

He said another 7-kilometer radius has been declared as a controlled zone where no fowls, eggs or other products could be brought out.

Pinol said 100 quarantine officers have set up stations in all roads from San Luis, backed up by officials of the provincial government and the Philippine National Police, to ensure that no single poultry product goes out of the area and that all vehicles coming out of the area will be sprayed with disinfectants to ensure the containment of the virus.

Local government officials surrounding San Luis have been directed to establish quarantine stations to regulate the entry of poultry and poultry products into their areas.

The government also urged the public to help contain this crisis by cleaning up their farms and closely monitoring their chicken for any signs of disease and immediately reporting any unusual behavior of your poultry animals to the DA or community veterinarian.

A state of calamity had been declared in Pampanga.

“After 21 days, sentinel birds will be deployed in the affected farms to serve as the basis in determining whether the virus is still present in the area. If the sentinel birds will not show signs of the disease, the quarantine restrictions will be lifted after 90 days,” Pinol said.

To further prevent the spread of contamination, Pinol said transhipment, through the Manila International Airport, of chicks, hatching eggs and other fowls from other countries coming into Luzon or other parts of the country will only be allowed “with the advisory that stringent quarantine protocols must be observed” which means that chicken brought in from the United States intended for shipment to the Visayas or Mindanao are not to be taken out of their boxes and must be loaded directly into the connecting flights.

Bong Inciong, president of the United Broilers Raisers Association (UBRA) said the Department of Health assured  it is safe to eat poultry products provided that these are cooked properly.

“ We have urged our members all over the country to cooperate fully with the DA-BAI to effectively contain the problem,” Inciong added.

“While chicken meat and egg supply may become volatile in the days ahead, we at UBRA will continue to provide Filipino families with quality, disease-free and nutritious poultry products,” Inciong added.

San Miguel Foods Inc. also  assured its poultry farms carrying its Magnolia Chicken brand remain free of bird flu.

“Upon immediate testing, our farms and our entire broiler flocks yielded negative results for avian influenza. There are also no manifestations of any symptoms of the disease or any abnormal increase in mortality that are being observed. We have implemented rigorous biosecurity measures in all SMFI controlled farms to avoid contamination from avian influenza,” the company said in a statement.
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