Life returns to bird flu ground zero | Inquirer News

Life returns to bird flu ground zero

/ 07:09 AM September 03, 2017

SAN LUIS, Pampanga— Townsfolk are trying to restore normalcy in this poultry-dominated town in the aftermath of the country’s first outbreak of avian flu.

Gone are the hundred soldiers and 316 men tasked with destroying 470,640 chicken, ducks, quails, pigeons, game fowls and native chicken within 1 kilometer of Barangay San Carlos.

After more than a week of suspended classes, seven students of the San Luis National High School busied themselves painting a mural, just two houses away from a big poultry farm.


At the San Carlos Elementary School, the classroom windows remained closed to control the stench of rotting meat which resident Rosalina Reyes likened to a dead rat.


“[But] the smell is bearable now,” said a female teacher of the elementary school. “And the big flies are gone,” a student added.

90-day test period

The animal quarantine checkpoints will stay until Sept. 6, when the quarantine period is lifted.

But poultry farms cannot resume operations until Dec. 5, or 90 days from the lifting of the quarantine.

“The 90-day test period gives time for San Carlos folk to plan how to rebuild while we officials find ways to prevent a repeat of the outbreak,” said Mayor Venancio Macapagal.

“The issue is finished. All the birds have been killed,” said barangay chair Felipe Sumat.


Sumat admitted the town did not have the capacity to deal with the disaster and the main problem now is how to revive the town’s economy.

Real losses

There were no human infections during the outbreak, but poultry owners, like 78-year-old Librada Sese, feel like they were hit by a plague.

“It feels like my husband and I lost everything that we worked for in the last 39 years,” said Sese, who lost up to P35 million from the 42,000 healthy chickens that were culled.

Sese sent 12 of her 16 workers back to Masbate, retaining only four to complete the cleaning and disinfecting of her chicken coops.

Social stigma

Aside from the financial losses, 70-year-old Jesus Reyes said the people also have to deal with the stigma of bird flu.

When he went to a doctor in the City of San Fernando last week, Reyes said patients moved away from him when he informed a nurse that he lives in San Luis.

His nephews stopped reporting for work in Manila for several days at the request of their own co-employees, who were afraid of catching the virus.

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“I think there was overreporting of the bird flu outbreak,” Reyes concluded.

TAGS: avian flu, Bird flu

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