DA chief dispels avian flu scare

SAN LUIS, Pampanga, Aug. 15 — Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary Manny Piñol on Tuesday started his visit here by eating balut, chicken arroz caldo, leche flan, and fried duck  to affirm that the Avian Influenza strain that hit poultry farms in the province is not a threat to humans.

Piñol was accompanied by Pampanga Vice Governor Dennis Pineda, San Luis Mayor Venancio “Asyong” Macapagal, and Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) veterinarian Ronnie Domingo in his second visit here since the bird flu outbreak.

He assured that the avian flu in Pampanga is not as harmful as what is being disseminated in social networking sites, causing fear among the public of eating chicken products coming from the province.

“I would like to contradict the public’s belief that the avian flu they know is not harmful to humans. There is a lot of misinformation circulating to the public. There is no way that the avian flu would transmit from birds to humans,” he said.

In a dialogue between the DA, the provincial government of Pampanga, local government unit and the poultry communities here and in nearby towns, Piñol said that the birds within the one-kilometer radius control zone  must be culled whether healthy or not to prevent further infestation in other areas of Pampanga and in nearby towns.

“We cannot do anything about it. We must strictly follow the protocol and bury or incinerate all of the birds within the one-kilometer radius,” he said.

He  added that the poultry products from within the seven-kilometer control radius from ground zero which is in San Carlos village are not allowed to be transported outside the vicinity.

The poultry raisers were instead given the green light to sell their products within the radius.

Piñol sympathized with and apologized to the poultry operators because of the billions of pesos of profit and capital lost due to the misfortune.

“Of course, it hurts me so bad that we have to experience this, but bear in mind that we are doing this for your own good. We must cull everything that can transmit the virus so that we can save the whole country,” he said.

DA and BAI personnel were ordered to closely coordinate with the provincial government in the conduct of inspection and documentation, including the proper disposal of the culled poultry.

A new way of disposing culled poultry was suggested as spaces for the burial became unfit in a low-lying town.

Incineration of the dead poultry is seen to be more preferable so as to burn even the virus that would eliminate the threat of spread.

Voluntary culling was also seen effective as long as the poultry owners present a pair of claws as one count for the culled poultry. This will be used for documentation and easy dispense of compensation.

The compensation is PHP80 per culled poultry regardless of its original price. PNA-northboundasia.com