MANILA, Philippines – It will take five to six more days before the government completes the slaughter of all 200,000 birds within the one-kilometer radius of San Luis town in Pampanga where the avian flu virus started to spread.
This is according to Dr. Arlene Vytiaco, head of the Animal Disease Control Section of the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI)’s Animal Health and Welfare Division, who said on Monday that only 6,700 of the fowls had so far been killed since Saturday.
Based on a report from the BAI, the avian flu outbreak started as early as May but poultry operators didn’t immediately report the problem until it worsened in July resulting in the death of about 37,000 birds that affected six poultry farms in San Luis.
The BAI still needs to exterminate fowls in the town’s barangays San Carlos and Sta. Rita, according to Vytiaco.
She said the fowls would be placed in plastic containers before the birds are gassed using carbon dioxide to gently render them unconscious and buried.
Pampanga was placed under a state of calamity following the outbreak. The police established 13 checkpoints within San Luis to control the spread of the avian virus by banning the release of poultry products within the seven-kilometer radius of the town.
Vytiaco said authorities had caught some traders trying to transport chicken and egg products from prohibited areas. She said the goods confiscated from the traders would be burned immediately.
The government will send avian flu virus samples to the Australian Animal Health Laboratory to determine the strain that caused the outbreak and whether this could infect humans.
No animal to human transmission of the virus has been reported so far following the spread of the avian disease.
After three weeks following the report of the outbreak, the government will send sentinel birds to San Luis to determine if the town remains stricken with the virus. If experts determine that the avian disease no longer exists, it will still take three to four months before the government can declare Pampanga bird flu-free.
Meanwhile, the Department of Health continues to monitor the medical conditions of residents within the one-kilometer radius of San Luis in relation to the outbreak.
The government is also advising people within the said area not to go to poultry farms outside of Pampanga to prevent the possible spread of the avian disease to other animals.
The public is also advised not to transport poultry products from Luzon to Visayas and Mindanao.
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) also cautioned the public against hunting and killing migratory birds to prevent the worsening the outbreak.
“Close contact with the birds will risk transmission…The culling, poisoning or chasing of migratory birds is strongly discouraged as they are proven ineffective and counterproductive,” said DENR-Biodiversity Management Bureau Director Mundita S. Lim in a statement issued Sunday.
Lim said the handling of any sick or dead wild birds “is likewise strongly discouraged.” If such cases occur, these should be immediately reported to the the nearest Department of Agriculture regional office for collection and analysis of samples for the detection of the virus.
Poultry raisers located in at risk areas visited by migratory birds are also advised by the DENR to contain or isolate their fowls to avoid contact with the wild birds and other wildlife.