DA: Philippines not yet bird-flu free

THE Department of Agriculture (DA) said the country is still not yet bird-flu free despite the successful slaughtering of infected poultry animals and culling activities as there are still many big and small poultry farms in Pampanga and Nueva Ecija provinces that are not yet disinfected.

Dr. Arlene Vytiaco, DA National Avian Flu spokesperson, in a press conference in Davao City, said disinfection of affected poultry farms is important to guarantee that the country is bird-flu free as the manures of the poultry animals are cultivating grounds for the avian flu virus.

Vytiaco said avian flu virus in manures could survive for a long period of time, thus, there is still a huge threat that the outbreak will manifest again if the farms are not properly disinfected.

"Although the disinfection activities already started in some poultry farms, there are still those who have not yet started especially those big commercial poultry farms as they carry thousands of fowls by which large piles of manures have to be cleaned," she said.

Manures of poultry animals, Vytiaco said, have to be buried near the vicinity of an infected area with dry soil which is the problem being faced by farm owners in Pampanga as the soil there is wet.

The Provincial Government of Pampanga, she added, is currently looking into other areas where manure burial is commendable.

Aside from the burial of fowl manures, Vytiaco said, scrubbing activity also has to be done as part of the whole disinfection process to assure the sterilization of the farm before restocking their farms with sentinel birds.

"After the cleaning process, DA will provide sentinel birds to different poultry farms and put them under close observation for 35 days. After that period, the farms can already resume to their business once the birds under observation do not manifest bird-flu symptoms," she said.

The disinfection activity, she said, has to be done by the poultry farm owners. Pampanga and Nueva Ecija governments both have to assess the farms after disinfection and pass a request of restocking to DA.

Vytiaco assured the public that the bird-flu issue in the country will soon end as long as the affected stakeholders take active participation and response to the protocols set by DA.
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