By John Noel E. Herrera
The Department of Agriculture (DA)-6 ordered tighter quarantine and preemptive measures in all provinces and cities in Western Visayas after the first confirmed bird flu cases in Capiz, which threatens the region’s P30-billion poultry industry.
“The region now is in high alert for the first case of Avian Influenza Type A and the said area has been properly acted upon as per protocol and coordination with the concerned LGU and the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI),” DA-6 said in a statement.
“Remaining five provinces are encouraged to strengthen their biosecurity measures, activate their respective Provincial Task Force on Avian Influenza and issue pertinent executive orders on this matter,” it added.
Initial reports from DA-6 revealed that there were incidents of high mortalities of ready to lay pullets in Capiz in the last week of November, and the provincial veterinary office immediately conducted an investigation as they collected 10 oropharyngeal swab samples subjected for testing.
Results from BAI showed that five out of 10 samples from an egg laying business establishment in Brgy. Cagay, Roxas City, Capiz yielded positive for Influenza Virus Type A (IVA) subtype H5N1.
The initial source of infection also came from ready to lay birds that were sourced from Luzon, while the area has also been contained and disinfected by the authorities.
DA-6 also implemented the following measures to contain the cases in the infected area in Capiz:
-Immediate quarantine and disease control measures in the affected premises.
-Properly culling and disposal of all remaining birds.
-Conduct of disease investigation (trace back and trace forward).
-Conduct of field surveillance and sample collection in all farms/households with susceptible animals within the 1-km quarantine zone from infected premises.
The agency added that they are closely monitoring all bird flu identified critical areas in the region, particularly in the towns of Ajuy, Sara, Concepcion, and Dumangas in Iloilo province; Sibalom, Antique; Sipalay, Negros Occidental; Brgy. Bugnay, Jordan, Guimaras, and some areas in Aklan and Capiz.
Meanwhile, the Iloilo Provincial Government already issued Executive Order No. 573 which temporarily banned the entry of domestic and captured wild (ornamental) birds, poultry products and by-products from the province of Capiz.
Provincial Administrator Atty. Dennis Ventilacion said that the EO will take effect immediately until Dec 13, 2022 as part of the protective measures of the province against bird flu.
Iloilo City Mayor Jerry P. Treñas also said that he will amend the city’s existing executive order (EO No. 43) on the banning of the entry of poultry and by-products from areas with cases of bird flu, as he will now include Capiz in the list.
“We’ve been coordinating with the provincial government just to make sure nga sigurado ta gid nga strikto man ang probinsya ta sa ila nga mga restrictions. May checkpoints naman to sila, and strikto man kita di sa city and we have already been enforcing that executive order,” Treñas said.
The mayor also said that they also need to watch the supply and prices of poultry products and dressed chicken in the markets as Capiz is one of the main suppliers of chicken in Iloilo.
“We will have to manage that (supply and prices). Waay gid kita may maubra, otherwise ang poultry naton nga industry sa province ma-igo man. Masakit na kaayo kung masulod na diri sa aton, so we need to protect also our poultry industry,” he added.
Several meat vendors in the city also expressed worry as they might again need to deal with another threat to their business, aside from the African Swine Fever (ASF).
“Diri sa amon sa Jaro Big Market, ti syempre nagakahangawa man kami kay basi di na kami mabaklan bala, basi wala na kami bentahon kay tungod sang amu naman na (bird flu) nga nagsulod nga ano naman sang manok, sang-ano to baboy man, subong manok naman, ti pare-pareho na, wala na gid kami bentahon, wala na may mabakal sang amon produkto di,” Jonalyn Gemenea said in a radio interview.
Gemenea also emphasized that most of their dressed chicken came from Negros Occidental, and noted that there might be a price increase, from P180/kg to P200/kg, in the coming days, as there is a tendency to shortage of supply.