The provincial government of Misamis Oriental on Monday ordered a total ban on the entry of all shipments of poultry products from Luzon in response to reports of an outbreak of avian influenza or bird flu in Pampanga.
Similarly, in Bataan and La Union an inter-agency task force was formed and quarantine checkpoints have been set up to thoroughly inspect chicken products entering the provinces to ensure they do not carry the deadly avian influenza virus (mutant H5).
Misamis Oriental veterinarian Benjamin Resma said strict quarantine has been issued to all ports of entries in the province to make sure that no smuggled chickens, quails, and other poultry products from entering the province.
Resma said that the ban includes chicken meat, eggs and all others of the avian family, including pet birds of all kinds, whether alive or meat products.
The ban was enforced after the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Health in Northern Mindanao raised the alarm on the possible entry of the contaminated products in the region.
“All poultry products in Mindanao remain safe and its transport outside the island is allowed. It is only the entry of the poultry products that we are concerned about and strictly enforcing the ban,” Resma added.
The avian influenza, which was reported in San Luis, Pampanga could cause illness and deaths to animals and humans.
Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol, however, said that it is still safe “to eat poultry and poultry products as only a small fraction of the country’s supply was affected.”
He added that a ban on the shipment of poultry products from Luzon to other parts of the country has to be imposed as a precautionary measure.
Inter-agency task force
In Bataan, provincial veterinarian Alberto Venturina mobilized the provincial Avian Influenza Inter-agency Task Force after the reported outbreak of mutant H5 in Pampanga, composed of poultry and game fowl breeders, non-governmental organizations and municipal agriculturists.
Venturina also told 21 members of his staff to get samples for laboratory test to determine the cause of death of chickens that may be found dead in any farm.
The outbreak of bird flu has greatly affected the sale of chicken meat and eggs in Bataan on the third day on Monday as chicken meat stalls at the Balanga City public market were almost empty of buyers.
Chicken vendor Evelyn Avocado said that from P160 per kilo of dressed chicken, the price is now down to P130 but still fewer buyers.
Fe Dacayan, another chicken meat seller, said even restaurants in Balanga City they used to supply have greatly cut their orders. “From 100 percent, they now order only about 10 percent of chicken,” she added.
An egg dealer also noticed a 50 percent drop in sale of eggs.
Meanwhile, San Fernando City Veterinarian Flosie Decena in La Union said that chicken stock in this city and the rest of the province is safe from avian flu as they have banned chicken coming from Pampanga.
Decena said in a radio interview that most chickens sold in city wet market come from the neighboring Pangasinan and from commercial poultry farms, one from the village of Siboan-Otong.
“There is also enough chicken supply in La Union at present, so we need not to worry. We need to monitor the prizes so that we can report it to the DA [Department of Agricultyre],” she said.
He also appealed to La Union residents to cook chicken meat well to prevent any illnesses related to the virus.
with ERNIE ESCONDE AND WILLIAM JUN GARCIA