Farm owner hid bird flu cases, says Pampanga governor

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 13 2017 10:37 AM

MANILA - A poultry raiser in San Luis, Pampanga allegedly kept the deaths of thousands chickens in his farm secret and failed to recognize that it was due to an avian flu outbreak, Governor Lilia Pineda said Sunday.

The farm owner and his veterinarian admitted Saturday that they did not know the symptoms of bird flu, which started to affect their fowls last April, said Pineda.

The farm had burned 38,000 affected birds and buried them in a shallow grave before seeking help from authorities, Pineda told DZMM.

“Iyung may poultry, kaya pala lumala, hindi niya ipinaalam sa amin, sinusunog niya tapos ibinabaon niya lang doon. Akala niya iyung ordinaryo lang na sakit... Noong hindi niya kaya na, saka pa lang siya nag-report kay mayor,” Pineda said in a phone interview with radio DZMM.

(The poultry owner did not report the outbreak. He just buried the dead chickens. He thought it was just an ordinary disease. He only reported the situation to the mayor when he can no longer control the situation.)

A doctor from the Bureau of Animal Industry said migratory birds could have brought the avian flu. Pineda said she suspected inefficient waste disposal at the farm caused the outbreak, the first ever recorded in the country.

The Department of Agriculture has declared a 7-kilometer “controlled zone” in San Luis, where 200,000 other chicken, ducks, quails, pigeons and fighting roosters were set for slaughter.

No fowls or eggs can be brought out of the "controlled zone" and all vehicles coming out of the area will be sprayed with disinfectant.

Pineda said authorities have killed some 20,000 fowls on Saturday.

Local officials, she added, have declared a state of calamity to allow the release of emergency funds in Pampanga, whose biggest source of income is the poultry industry.

Quarantine officers will disinfect the 6 affected farms and a new set of fowl called "sentinel birds" will be brought in after 21 days. If the "sentinel birds" don't fall sick after 90 days, the quarantine restrictions will be lifted, Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said.

Piñol said poultry farmers would be compensated with P80 per culled chicken and given loans to buy new fowls when their area has been cleared of the virus.