By Hannah Torregoza
Senator Nancy Binay on Sunday urged the Departments of Health and Agriculture (DOH, DA) that there would be no outbreak of bird flu, following reports of an upsurge of the disease in poultry farms in Pampanga.
Binay said both government agencies should be prepared to contain the spread of the disease and prevent a possible flu epidemic.
“They need to ensure the safety and health of the public, especially those who are working in the poultry farm and other poultry farms in the country,” Binay said.
“I am calling on these departments to take the lead in containing the spread of the disease among poultry and ensure that no persons would be affected,” she said.
She also urged both departments to coordinate with local government units (LGUs) especially those affected by it.
Based on studies, she said bird flu or avian influenza can infect poultry and other bird species but do not usually affect humans. But the United States Centers of Disease Control (CDC) said rare cases of human infection have been reported.
According to the CDC, signs and symptoms of bird flu in humans include conjunctivitis, influenza-like illness sometimes accompanied by nausea, abdominal pain, diarrhea, and vomiting, severe respiratory illness neurologic changes, and the involvement of other organ systems.
The DA and the DOH, she said, should start an information drive to educate poultry farmers and workers about biosecurity, early signs of the disease, its identification, the mode/s of transmission from birds to humans, and other relevant information.
Farms and communities, especially backyard farms, should be monitored 24/7 as part of the containment of the disease, she stressed.
“That’s why we are calling on also the owners and workers in poultry and other poultry farms to report as soon possible if they see any symptoms of bird flu in their chickens,” she said.
She said it would be better to immediately cull infected animals with the help and guidance of health and veterinary officials.
Binay also called on the DA and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to monitor public markets and other nontraditional modes of distribution.
Likewise, the DA and DTI must help the affected farms get back on their feet, as well as ensure that there are sufficient stock of poultry in the coming months.
“Let’s help these affected farms get back on their feet by giving them sufficient funds or alternative livelihood,” she said.
“Christmas is just around the corner and we expect the demand for chicken and other poultry products to rise,” added the senator.
Likewise, she said the DTI should monitor the price of chicken and other poultry merchandises to ensure businesses won’t take advantage of the epidemic and jack up the cost of the retail price of these products.