Dr. Lapiz: Poultry products from Bohol are safe to eat

Despite the outbreak of bird flu virus in Pampanga province in Luzon, poultry products sourced out from Bohol farms remain 100-percent free from virus contamination and are “perfectly safe for human consumption.”

This was the latest report relayed to the local media by Provincial Veterinarian Dr. Bing Lapiz, as the provincial government continues to tighten security measures on preventing the bird flu virus from reaching Bohol shores.

Earlier, Gov. Edgar M. Chatto, through an executive order, ordered a total ban on entry of poultry products from Luzon after the Department of Health (DOH) had confirmed of the presence of bird flu virus in San Luis, Pampanga, the first of such outbreak noted in Philippine history.

Chatto had also formed a task force that will monitor the movement, buying, and selling of poultry products in the province,ensuring that poultry products and farms in Bohol would not be contaminated with the dreaded virus which was first detected in 2003 in mainland Asia and had spread to Europe since then.

The governor had said theban is intended for the full protection of the homegrown poultry industry in the province.

In an interview, Lapiz told The Bohol Tribune that Bohol is self-sufficient on supply of poultry products.

“Most of the poultry products we consume here are produced within our province,” Lapiz said.

Lapiz assured the public the poultry products sold in stores in Bohol are safe to eat.

As this developed, Marcela Farms of the Alturas Group of Companies, the province’s biggest supply of poultry products, had said in a statement that all its poultry products are 100-percent free of bird flu, and are totally safe for consumption.

In fact, the company said, it is shipping poultry products from Bohol to Luzon, which is not covered by the ban.

Meanwhile, Lapiz noted that prices of poultry products in Bohol remain normal despite the ban and the bird-flu outbreak in Luzon.

The supply and demand of poultry products has not also changed the past few days, added Lapiz.

However, the provincial veterinarian called on the public to cooperate with the government by heeding the policies attached to the ban.

Lapiz said those travelling from Luzon to Bohol should not attempt to bring in poultry products from there even if it is for personal consumption.

“Kita tanan ang mo-suffer kung dunay magpasulod ug poultry products from Luzon paingon diri sa Bohol,” Lapiz said during an interview with dyTR’s “Ang Lungsod nga Nasayod” program hosted by Mike Ortega Ligalig.

“Magtinabangay ta tanan ug atong sundon ang mga lagda sa gobyerno nga gipatuman kabahin sa ban sa entry of poultry products from Luzon kay para ra ni sa atong kaayohan,” Lapiz stressed.

As part of its combat measures against the virus, the provincial government started yesterday deploying footbaths in ports of entry.

Bohol veterinary authorities are now implementing quarantine services and inspection of all buses and vehicles coming to Bohol from Luzon through its veterinary quarantine checkpoints (VQCs) in Ubay.

With this, veterinary authorities are expected to flag down vehicles from Manila which has crossed to Bohol via the roll-on-roll-off sea transports and institute inspection, passenger footbaths and wheel spraying of chemicals to prevent the spread of the virus to Bohol.

This is to advance the province-wide mobilization measures to keep Bohol free from the avian influenza outbreak which has occurred in Pampanga and could be spreading now.

Although health authorities observing the Pampanga strain to be of low pathogenic, a mutation to high pathogenic strain which can cause sudden deaths and high mortality rates in birds may not be discounted.

The virus can be spread through contaminated eggs which can infect chicks in the incubator, contaminated feed, water, equipment and clothing as well as direct contact with infected bird’s dung or secretion, Dr. Lapiz said.

Veterinary authorities have to admit a sad fact: there has been no specific treatment for bird flu.

With the Pampanga outbreak, the Department of Agriculture’s Bureau of Animal Industry through Assistant Secretary for Livestock and Chief Veterinary Officer Enrico Garzon Jr., DVM issued Memorandum Circular No 10 series of 2017 last August 14.

This imposed a temporary ban on the movement of live domestic and wild birds and their products including poultry meat, day-old chicks, eggs, semen and manure from Luzon to Visayas and Mindanao, in a bid to arrest contamination of avian species in the Visayas and Mindanao.

Two days later, BAI issued a clarificatory memo: the trans-shipment ban does not apply to transport of birds and poultry products from Visayas to Mindanao or vice versa.

HOMEGROWN BOHOLANO PRODUCER

Meanwhile, a local producer of poultry products specializing on free-range chicken and organic chicken products has welcomed the move of the provincial government.

Ian S. Uy, a Tagbilaran-based distributor and producer of organic poultry products, yesterday told The Bohol Tribune that the ban of poultry products from Luzon to Bohol would help protect them (local, Bohol-based producers) from being affected by the outbreak.

“It is with a heavy heart that I express my support to the government,” Uy said through an interview via Facebook messenger. “I’m sure heavy financial losses are incurred by fellow poultry raisers in Luzon.”

He added: “But it’s the only way to keep it (the virus) isolated.”

Uy also said the government should always advocate “backyard farming,” which is sustainable to manage for every family in Bohol or elsewhere in the country.

CHATTO’S ORDER

Gov. Chatto has ordered the disinfection of all types of vehicles from Luzon entering the Bohol ports as more measures have been taken to prevent bird flu entry to the province.

Additional quarantine inspectors have been deployed at the ports and city airport where there are direct trips and flights from Luzon.

Chatto reiterated to also ensure the strict implementation of the temporary ban on the movement of live domestic and wild birds and their products.

These products include poultry meat, days old chicken, eggs, and even semen and manure from Luzon.

The installation of footbath at the ports and airport is another preventive measure.

In case of confiscation, the bird/ poultry will be sent back when feasible or properly disposed of and disinfected before being buried.

Surveillance is equally essential, Chatto said, and, thus, poultry farms and areas with sightings of migratory birds have to be closely monitored.

When necessary, samples will be collected for bird flu testing and sent to the animal industry laboratory of the Department of Agriculture (DA) Regional Office.

The governor encouraged the reporting of disease, particularly that which result in the unusual death of poultry and bird.

The municipal agriculturists in the province have been briefed on the risk and threat of bird flu so they can effectively assist the Office of the Provincial Veterinarian (OPV) in information dissemination.

STRICT ENFORCEMENT

Strict enforcement of quarantine will prevent the spread of bird flu virus, Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said on Friday.

Piñol, who attended the Eastern and Central Visayas Mango Stakeholders Forum in Mandaue City, compared the installation of quarantine measures in areas where the Avian Influenza virus outbreak has been reported to building a “firewall”.

He said the DA actually instituted quarantine measures in Nueva Ecija last week even before the laboratory test has confirmed the bird flu outbreak in the towns of Jaen and San Isidro of said province.

The DA secretary said they were set to depopulate the area of infected fowls to stop the spread of the virus.

So far, the biggest “firewall” is in Luzon, where firewalls with a seven-kilometer radius have been set up in provinces where signs and symptoms of bird flu have been reported.

“The firewalls were built to prevent the virus from spreading to other areas of the country, and that is also why we issued a memorandum to ban the shipping out of chicken from Luzon,” Piñol said.

Piñol also said they were very careful about this issue and constantly monitoring other places for possible outbreaks.

He advised poultry producers to carry out biosecurity measure. “If you own a poultry farm, you have to understand that the most important component of your farm is your biosecurity measure, where you should not allow anyone to enter your farm without proper disinfection. You should have a foot box with disinfectant for everyone who enters the farm. Even cars, before entering the farm, should be sprayed with disinfectant, because you are producing food, and food must be clean,” Piñol said.

Piñol added that every poultry owner should keep his farm clean and not allow chicken waste to just scatter around the area.

Piñol likewise urged all local government units to execute strict quarantine measures as well as the Philippine National Police (PNP) to arrest anyone violating the DA administrative order banning the transportation of poultry products from Luzon to other parts of the country.(with a report from PNA and Edcom)

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