CITY OF SAN FERNANDO -- The Department of Agriculture (DA) said that an Australian laboratory confirmed that the Avian Influenza A(H5) virus killed thousands of birds in six poultry farms in San Luis, Pampanga.
Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said it will take another three days before the Australian Animal Health Laboratory (AAHL) can identify the virus's subtype.
Some 37,000 birds have died from Avian Influenza subtype H5 in what has been declared as the first bird flu outbreak in the country.
“While we have already contained the spread of the Avian Influenza which hit San Luis, Pampanga and the towns of Jaen and San Isidro in Nueva Ecija, I feel there is a need to address accusations made by some individuals that the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF) acted hastily in declaring the outbreak and instituting strict quarantine measures which affected the livelihood of farmers,” Pinol said.
Pinol made particular reference to former Candaba, Pampanga mayor Jerry Pelayo.
“Even after four laboratory tests confirmed the AI outbreak in San Luis, he continued questioning the decision of the Bio-Security experts to institute strict quarantine measures saying these affected the duck raisers of Pampanga,” Pinol added.
The DA chief said he was offended by the accusations, which implied that he is an irresponsible leader who makes decisions without the wisdom of experts.
Dr. Arlene Vytiaco, head of the AI Task Force, said it will take another three days before the N strain could be identified, according to Pinol.
It is not yet clear which H5 subtype infected the birds in San Luis but the Department of Health (DOH) and the agriculture officials are not putting their guards down until the confirmatory tests from Australia are made available.
Precautionary measures and strict bans are understandable since certain subtypes of the virus like H5N1 can affect humans.
The World Health Organization has monitored 453 human deaths from 859 cases of avian influenza since 2000, with Asia accounting for 41 percent of all cases. Studies show that persons infected with avian influenza are relatively few compared to seasonal human flu.
The percentage of people who die from HPAI H5N1 is very high, almost half of the people infected. (SunStar Pampanga)