MANILA, Aug 14 (NNN-PHILSTAR) � The Department of Agriculture targets to finish culling more than 200,000 poultry heads Monday as part of the government's precautionary measure following the first ever bird flu outbreak in the country.

The DA is now in the process of culling an estimated 200,000 poultry heads�chicken, ducks, quails, pigeons and fighting roosters�within the town of San Luis in Pampanga to avoid the spread of the virus.

Pampanga has been placed in a state of calamity since Friday.

"At most, we want to finish the depopulation not later than tomorrow [Monday]. We will be trying to exhaust all our efforts and resources to finish these until tomorrow. We have to understand that we are not only talking about captive birds, we have to cull those stray birds as well," Agriculture Undersecretary Ariel Cayanan said in a phone interview.

Last Friday, the DA confirmed the outbreak of avian influenza virus (bird flu), the first case for the country, in San Luis, Pampanga which killed close to 40,000 poultry heads and placed the province in a state of calamity.

Initial field reports as to how many heads have been culled already is still under validation.

Cayanan said Pampanga Gov. Lilia Pineda is shouldering the daily labor cost for the culling process.

Test specimens confirmed the presence of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) subtype H5 in the town of San Agustin in San Luis, Pampanga, killing 37,000 birds covering six farms particularly poultry, quail and ducks.

According to Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel PiAol, quarantine officers will disinfect all the six farms after all birds in the area have been culled.

The department maintained that culling the rest of the poultry population in the area is necessary to control the spread of disease in the shortest possible time as the remaining 200,000 may also be infected with bird flu.

The Bureau of Animal Industry has already declared a quarantine zone within a one-kilometer radius of the farms where the outbreak was confirmed.

Another seven-kilometer radius has been declared as a controlled zone where no fowls, eggs or other products could be brought out.

Apart from confining the area, the department has ordered the ban on the shipment of fowls from Luzon to the other parts of the country.

This means that chicken brought in from the United States intended for shipment to the Visayas or Mindanao may not be taken out of the boxes and must be loaded directly into the connecting flights.

Low chance of virus transmission to humans

On the other hand, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Biodiversity Management Bureau warned the public on approaching migratory birds in light of fears that the current bird flu outbreak is caused by the birds.


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