200,000 poultry to be culled after confirmed cases of Avian Influenza
Some 200,000 poultry will be culled after Philippine authorities have confirmed cases of Avian Influenza (AI) subtype H5 in Pampanga province, the Department of Agriculture said on Friday.
In a press conference in Quezon City, Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Pinol said the AI disease, which was first time to be recorded in the country, affected poultry farms in San Carlos and Sta. Rita villages in San Luis, Pampanga.
The AI subtype H5 is a notifiable disease that can cause illness and deaths to both animals and humans.
"Initial samples collected from a farm in Pampanga which reported very high mortalities in poultry showed positive results to said disease when samples were tested at the BAI (Bureau of Animal Industry)-Animal Disease Diagnosis and Reference Laboratory," he said.
Pinol said he directed to put up a one-kilometer quarantine zone in the areas affected and 7-kilometer control zone for surveillance.
The BAI has established 12 quarantine checkpoints within 1-km radius to check the incoming and outgoing vehicles moving livestock and poultry and to limit animal movements within the area.
Pinol said poultry products from the affected areas could not be brought to other places in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.
Arlene Asteria Vytiaco, BAI national AI focal person, said tests showed that AI was negative for N1, which could infect humans.
She said BAI is in the process of sending the samples to the Australian Animal Health Laboratory, a World Organization for Animal Health Reference Laboratory for AI for further testing.
Of the 13 farms affected, five have about 116,000 layers, while the rest were quail and mallard farms.
Pinol said the local government of Pampanga has declared a state of calamity in the area.
He also said investigation has been ongoing as to why the disease entered the country.
He cited two possibilites: due to possible smuggling of ducks into the country or from the migratory birds from China which were arriving in Candaba swamp in Pampanga.
But he said other possibilities were also being looked into.
BAI only started checking the situation in Pampanga on August 4 as this was the only time that it received information, Vytiaco said.
Vytiaco said they learned that as early as April, there were poultry animals which died.
Pinol said the government would provide assistance to the farmworkers who are affected.
Culling of the animals will take place for about three days and after 21 days, BAI will send sentinel animals to the affected place to test if the areas are still infected by the disease, Vytiaco said.
If there will be no more infection, after 90 days, the quarantine and control zones would be removed, Pinol said. Celerina Monte/DMS