In a briefing yesterday, Agriculture Secretary William Dar has confirmed the detection of the H5N6 highly pathogenic avian influenza in Barangay Ulanin-Pitak in Jaen, Nueva Ecija, which has affected some 15,000 quails.
Stock photo by William Moreland via Unsplash
Bird flu hits Nueva Ecija
Louise Maureen Simeon (The Philippine Star) - March 17, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines will once again deal with bird flu after a quail farm in Nueva Ecija tested positive for the same poultry disease that hit the country three years ago.

In a briefing yesterday, Agriculture Secretary William Dar has confirmed the detection of the H5N6 highly pathogenic avian influenza in Barangay Ulanin-Pitak in Jaen, Nueva Ecija, which has affected some 15,000 quails.

Nueva Ecija was also hit by bird flu in 2017.

The bird flu can affect humans but the rate is very low. This comes at a time when the country is seeing rising cases of coronavirus disease and is scrambling to contain African swine fever.

“While this can affect humans, the bird flu in 2017 has not affected humans in the country. And globally, there have only been a few cases of human infections and all of these were reported in China,” Dar said.

“Animal quarantine checkpoints have been established to restrict movement on all live domestic birds to and from the one-kilometer radius quarantine area. Day old chicks, hatching eggs and poultry meat will be allowed provided that the source farm will be tested negative from bird flu,” he said.

As early as March 6, quails in the farm showed symptoms, including lack of appetite and weakness. It was on March 9 when an initial 12 heads died.

Since then, the farm recorded increasing mortalities, which eventually reached 3,000 heads in a few days. The DA said the farm owner immediately reported the situation to the Provincial Veterinary Office and tests were conducted.

Test results showed the farm was hit by bird flu, and 12,000 more heads had to be depopulated.

Dr. Arlene Vytiaco, DA technical spokesperson for avian influenza, said the situation is under control following early reporting of the disease.

The DA will be implementing the 1-7 protocol where all birds within a one-kilometer radius will be tested, and will only be culled if found positive of the disease. Those in the seven-kilometer radius will be in surveillance zones and will be monitored. Random sampling for the test will also be done.

As to the possibility of human transmission, Vytiaco maintained that “chance is very slim” and that the Philippines has not recorded any case even within the farms affected in 2017.

As part of the protocol, all persons who have been exposed to the farm would have to be tested by the Department of Health and will be placed under incubation period of seven to 14 days.

The DA is now tracing back how the bird flu got into the country. One of the possibilities is through migratory birds.

Agriculture Undersecretary Ariel Cayanan said the DA is now encouraging regional field offices to test birds in their areas as a control measure.

Should the situation worsen, the DA assured raisers of indemnification if they will be affected. It will pay P80 per duck, broiler, and layer chickens to be affected, while P10 will be paid per quail.

Likewise, the DA called on the public to not avoid consuming chicken so as not to affect the decline of farmgate prices. It reiterated that consuming chicken is safe.

Malacañang assured the public that the government is ready to respond to the problems to be caused by bird flu.  – With Alexis Romero, Ramon Lazaro

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BIRD FLU
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