THE Department of Agriculture 7 has assured consumers in Central Visayas that prices of chicken meat are stable, and supply is sufficient amid the outbreak of avian influenza virus (bird flu) in Pampanga.
DA 7 Director Salvador Diputado said that as of Monday, his office had not received any reports on an increase in chicken meat prices, reassuring that there is enough supply of chicken in the region with major broilers coming from Asturias in Cebu and from Mindanao.
On Aug. 11, the DA confirmed the first case of bird flu outbreak in the country, which killed close to 40,000 poultry heads in San Luis town in Pampanga, which is now under a state of calamity. The DA has since banned the movement or transport of birds, fowl or their byproducts from Luzon to the Visayas and Mindanao.
Diputado said DA 7 is closely monitoring the situation. For one, it has increased monitoring in areas where there are migratory bird stations to include Olango, Bantayan, Argao, Talisay, Minglanilla, Naga, Liloan, Cordova, Dalaguete and San Fernando in Cebu.
Meanwhile, in Bohol, DA 7 is closely watching migratory birds in the towns of Calape and Talibon. For Negros Oriental, the towns of Ayugon, Siaton, Manjuyod, Canlaon, Bayawan, Tanjay, Sta. Catalina and Bais are on DA’s high alert.
“In areas where there are migratory birds, we are monitoring if there are any changes, especially suspicious deaths of the birds,” Diputado said. However, he noted that the migration season of birds in these areas is from October to March, reducing the chances of a bird flu outbreak in the region.
Diputado said he also convened yesterday the Regional Quick Response Team of DA 7, a group that will assist each province on bird flu protocols and preparedness measures in the event that an outbreak occurs.
A contagious disease of birds caused by the H5N1 influenza virus, bird flu can be transmitted to humans through inhalation or contamination with infected discharges or feces of sick chickens or infected birds. Signs and symptoms of bird flu contamination include cough, diarrhea, fever over 38 degrees Celsius, headache, muscle ache, runny nose, sore throat and respiratory difficulties.
On Sunday, Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol confirmed that the avian flu strain that hit Pampanga farms is Type A Sub-Type H5. The World Health Organization said a Type A avian influenza can infect humans.
Diputado assures consumers that chickens in Central Visayas are safe to eat.
“So far, the chicken here in Central Visayas is safe, but for our own safety and protection, it’s better to cook the chicken thoroughly,” he said.
The DA official also advised households and restaurants to maintain cleanliness and sanitation to avoid any form of food poison and other diseases.
Meanwhile, fastfood chains Jollibee Foods Corp. and McDonald’s have issued statements assuring that their chickens are safe to eat and that both adopt international and local food safety standards.
To avoid the spread of the virus, the DA is culling an estimated 200,000 poultry heads in San Luis, Pampanga, to include chicken, ducks, quails, pigeons and fighting roosters.