August 14, 2017
Philippines hit by 1st bird flu outbreak in 10 years
The Philippines reported its first bird flu outbreak in at least 10 years, and its agriculture department ordered the culling of around 200,000 birds in the affected major egg-producing province of Pampanga on Luzon island.
"We are closely monitoring the situation in Pampanga following the confirmation of bird flu outbreak yesterday (Aug. 11) by the Department of Agriculture," Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said in a statement on Saturday, Aug. 12, according to a report by the Philippine Daily Inquirer (PDI).
Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol confirmed that about 200,000 chickens in at least six farms in San Luis town in Pampanga had been affected by the H5 strain of the avian flu virus.
"The four laboratory tests conducted showed that it's type A-H5, and it's negative of type A-H5N1, which is the strain that could be transmitted from animals to human beings", Piñol was quoted as saying.
The Secretary clarified that the 200,000 fowls that had been ordered killed were not necessarily infected. They were culled because they were within the one-kilometer quarantine radius, he explained.
Only layer birds affected
He also clarified that the virus originated in layer farms, which means they only produce eggs, not meat, lowering the possibility of quickly spreading the infection in nearby areas.
"It would have been a different story had they been producing broilers or chicken for the meat market", Piñol said.
Piñol said the avian flu outbreak was belatedly discovered since farmers did not immediately report the deaths of birds, which spiked to around 37,000 in July, because they thought the cause of the deaths was just an ordinary poultry disease.
He assured the public that no feathered animals, including eggs, would be allowed to be transported outside the seven-kilometer controlled radius to contain the virus, according to the PDI report.
After the culling of the affected chickens, quails and ducks, the 1-kilometre danger zone would remain under a state of quarantine for three months.
According to the PDI, the first recorded bird flu case in the Philippines was in July 2005 in a small farm in Calumpit town, Bulacan province, also on Luzon.
Way back in 2015, the Philippines said that it had maintained its status of being bird flu-free granted by the Paris-based World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) for five years already. But earlier in 2007, it said it remained free of the avian flu virus. -Rick Alberto