THE Department of Agriculture (DA) yesterday confirmed an outbreak of Avian Influenza (AI) in at least six poultry farms in San Luis, Pampanga.
In a press conference, DA Secretary Emmanuel Piñol disclosed that there were at least 37,000 fowls, ducks, quails and chickens that already died because of the virus.
Piñol, together with officials from the Department of Health, personally inspected the infected farms in San Luis, Pampanga wherein six farms in the areas were infected. Of the six, three of the farms have a hundred percent mortality rate.
He explained that the mortality rate is 34 percent from the total number of 105,000 poultry products in the area.
In view of the outbreak, the DA has already put up a one kilometer quarantine radius in San Luis for 90 days and the quarantine will only be lifted once the area will be cleared with the virus.
All poultry products within the one kilometer quarantine radius will be culled then buried in a high place that will be identified by the Pampanga locla government.
Also the DA put up a 7-kilometer control zone for surveillence wherein no fowls, ducks, quails and chickens will be brought out of the area and that all vehicles coming in and out of the area will also be checked.
To further protect the area, at least 12 quarantine checkpoints within one kilometer radius in said town were put up and are equipped with power sprays to disinfect the vehicles moving livestock and poultry.
Dr. Arlene Asteria Vytiaco of the Bureau of Animal Industry said that subtype H5 of AI was identified that afflicted the poultry products.
The said type of 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 the said disease when samples were tested at the BAI-Animal Disease Diagnosis and Reference Laboratory (ADDRL).
Vytiaco, however, disclosed that there is no report yet of cases of infection from animals to humans.
She also said that based on the laboratory results, it is only the subtype H5 that was identified and negative results for N1 virus. She, however, added that they will still subject for laboratory test the samples to determine if the virus is positive or negative with N6 virus. The results will be known within two weeks.
Dr. Celia Carlos of Tropical Medicine, on the other hand, said that even the workers in the identified infected poultry farms will also be quarantined within 7 sevendays to determine if they were infected with the virus.
She also advised those exposed to the virus to observe if they are experiencing flu-like symptoms and can go to any DOH facilities within 24 to 48 hours if they have such symptoms.
Piñol, meanwhile, assured the public that as of the moment, the cases of AI are still confined within the town of San Luis, Pampanga and the DA together with the DOH had instituted measures to prevent the possible spread of the virus.
He also clarified that the poultry farms that were affected are only for commercial layers that only produce eggs.
Piñol added that the supply of eggs in the country will not be affected since these infected poultry farms only supply eggs in Pampanga.
The DA disclosed that the presence of AI virus in said farms has started in April but poultry farmers did not immediately reported the incident to them.
“At that time, possibly they can still contain the deaths of their animals. Dahil siguro masyado nang mataas ang mortality rate, that is the only time that they reported the incident. It was only last Aug. 3 that we confirmed the outbreak,” Piñol said.
He also stressed that they will look into the culpability of some veterinarians who did not report immediately to the department of the outbreak as early as April.