Piñol says new bird flu case in Nueva Ecija 'contained'
MANILA, Philippines – Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said on Saturday, December 2, that local officials and workers from the agriculture department have "successfully contained" an avian influenza (bird flu) case in an egg layer farm in Cabiao, Nueva Ecija.
In his Facebook page, Piñol said that when the new case was reported on November 12, local officials in Cabiao town directed veterinary officials to submit specimens to the Regional Animal Disease Detection Laboratory.
"When the tests turned out positive, [Mayor Ramil Rivera] ordered the immediate culling of 42,000 heads of egg layers, completing the task on November 22," Piñol added.
A separate statement from the Department of Agriculture (DA) said the farm owner "opted for immediate depopulation."
With the recently approved modified protocol in handling bird flu cases, the agriculture department will no longer put up a pone-kilometer (km) containment zone and a 7-km control zone.
"Under the new internationally set protocols, only fowls in the affected farm will be culled while those in the surrounding areas will be monitored and subjected to random tests," the agriculture secretary noted.
In his post, Piñol gave his assurance that farm owners whose birds were culled will be compensated, while displaced farm workers will be assisted.
The new protocols in handling bird flu cases were approved during a recent stakeholders consultative forum called by the Philippine Council for Agriculture and Fisheries (PCAF).
According to Piñol, it was also agreed upon during the PCAF that "only the Agriculture Secretary is the authorized official to issue statements on the bird flu issue to prevent confusion and panic which could adversely affect the industry."
"There is no 100% that there will be no more bird flu cases in the future but unlike before, the DA and the sector are more prepared to handle the crisis," he added.
The DA reported the Philippines' first bird flu outbreak last August, which affected farms in San Luis Pampanga. A week later, the towns of Jaen and San Isidro in Nueva Ecija also reported confirmed cases of bird flu.
An official from the Bureau of Animal Industry earlier said San Luis, Pampanga, may be declared bird flu-free by December. – Rappler.com