DA: 42,000 chickens culled had bird flu
CABANATUAN CITY—The 42,000 chickens that were culled and buried last week in Cabiao, Nueva Ecija province, were infected with avian flu, Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said here on Friday.
Piñol said that the infection had been confined to a poultry farm in Barangay Concepcion in Cabiao, following the culling on Nov. 21. He blamed the smuggling of chickens from towns that were quarantined in August, when the first bird flu cases were reported.
“Yes, there was an incidence of bird flu in that farm in Cabiao, and we have already culled [every infected bird] … There is no reason to be alarmed,” Piñol told members of Butil Farmers’ Party here.
The bird flu outbreak was first reported on Aug. 11 in San Luis town in Pampanga province. The Department of Agriculture (DA) immediately set the protocols in place.
A week later, the DA also quarantined a poultry farm in San Isidro town and quail farms in Jaen town, all in Nueva Ecija.
In September, the DA lifted the quarantine after it declared that the outbreak had been nipped in the bud. But the towns were subjected to a 90-day test period to determine whether the flu virus had been eradicated.
Piñol did not identify the flu strain that affected the Cabiao farm, but said it affected only chickens.
He also said there was no cover-up of the incident in Cabiao. He said the impact of the first bird flu infections had crippled the poultry industry, so the government was careful and did not want to blow the cases out of proportion.
But tests were being conducted in farms surrounding the affected poultry in Cabiao, he said.
The Inquirer first learned about the culling on Nov. 27, but Nueva Ecija officials would not explain why they had to kill the birds.
A government source said town inspectors first noticed that chickens had been dying at the infected farm.—ARMAND GALANG
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