Bird flu hits Pampanga egg farm
Louise Maureen Simeon (The Philippine Star) - July 30, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Bird flu has been detected in an egg farm in Pampanga, resulting in the culling of around 40,000 heads of layer chickens.

The Department of Agriculture’s (DA) Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) yesterday confirmed that H5N6 highly pathogenic avian influenza, which can be passed on to humans, was detected in a poultry layer or egg-producing farm in San Luis town.

Arlene Vytiaco, DA technical spokesperson for avian influenza, said the owner of the farm observed poultry mortality of 35 to 70 per day.

“They immediately called the attention of the DA regional office and we conducted an investigation. It (bird flu) was confirmed on July 9,” Vytiaco told The STAR.

Culling operations, which started on July 10, took four days.

The San Luis health office is monitoring its personnel  involved in disease control measures.

Vytiaco said the DA would indemnify the farm owner at P80 per head or a total of P3.09 million.

The DA implemented the 1-7 protocol wherein infected fowls within the one-kilometer radius were culled.

Those in the seven-kilometer radius are considered surveillance zones and monitored.

Vytiaco said pigeons, ducks and commercial layers in 30 farms within the one-kilometer radius all tested negative for the bird flu virus.

Vytiaco clarified that the bird flu in Pampanga is not connected to the case in Jaen, Nueva Ecija in March.

The DA declared Nueva Ecija bird flu-free last week.

“The one in Jaen was immediately contained. No case was reported in Nueva Ecija,” she said.

Migratory birds

Vytiaco said migratory birds could be carriers of the avian influenza virus.

Initial investigation showed the presence of migratory birds in San Luis, which has been associated with bird flu outbreaks in many countries.

The Candaba swamp in Pampanga is among the wetlands in the country where migratory birds flock.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources has identified 117 important bird areas (IBAs) in the country.

Around 150,000 migratory birds nest and breed in Central Luzon annually.

The BAI assured the public that the virus has not been  detected among broiler chickens, the primary source of poultry meat.

BAI director Ronnie Domingo urged poultry raisers in Central Luzon and those in IBAs to protect their farms from migratory birds, and immediately report any unusual poultry mortalities. – Ding Cervantes

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