• Agri dept allows poultry shipments out of Luzon

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    THE Department of Agriculture (DA) has allowed the shipment of poultry and poultry products from Luzon to other parts of the country provided these are validated by quarantine officers and certified by accredited and inspected farms in the region.

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    “We made the decision to lift the shipment of poultry products from Luzon to other parts of the country subject, of course, of bio-security measures on the recommendation of bio experts who believe it is now safe to do that,” Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol told reporters in a news briefing on Tuesday.

    “We feel we have contained the problem in San Luis, Pampanga. Publicly, please allow me to commend the leadership of the province of Pampanga and the people of Pampanga for showing so much support to our efforts to contain the problem,” Pinol said, referring to the area where the first bird flu outbreak was reported.

    At the same time, Pinol said that the Agriculture department’s decision to allow the entry of poultry and poultry products from Luzon to other parts of the country was also an “emotional” one.

    “This is more [of an]emotional consideration [because of]the fact that we have also listened to the pleadings of the farmers to allow them to ship products [if we think that it is safe],” he said.

    Farmers were also instructed to cook first their balut or duck eggs before shipping them out, Piñol said.

    Also, Piñol said an Australian laboratory had confirmed the presence of the bird flu virus in Pampanga.

    The laboratory results from the World Organization for Animal Health revealed that the strain was avian influenza type A subtype H5, the same strain the DA’s Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) found in its own testing, said Pinol.

    Arlene Vytiaco, BAI focal person for avian influenza, said the results verified initial findings in the affected chickens in San Luis town.

    “It confirmed our finding at the laboratory. Our test showed that they are positive for avian influenza type A, H5. So our findings are the same as those in Australia,” Vytiaco said.

    However, the N subtype was still being verified.

    “There is still no N [sub]type because there are not enough samples and it needs to be propagated to conduct further testing, so that would take one to three days,” she said.

    “We would like to know the N [subtype]…but our activities will be the same. Whether it will be H5 or N7 or 5, our activities will be the same to contain the virus, like culling,” she added.

    The H and N stand for Hemagglutinin and Neuraminidase, proteins found on the surface of the influenza virus. The designations determine the “infectivity” of the virus.

    Vytiaco said the strain that hit the chickens in Pampanga and Nueva Ecija was most likely not a new strain.

    KENNETH HERNANDEZ

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