THE Department of Agriculture (DA) said confirmed an outbreak of H5N6 Avian Influenza (Bird Flu) at a quail farm in Nueva Ecija.

In a news conference Monday, Agriculture Secretary William D. Dar said the outbreak was confirmed on March 13 after the Nueva Ecija Veterinary Office received reports of increased quail mortality at a farm in Barangay Ulanin-Pitak in Jaen on March 9.

The authorities culled 12,000 birds while 3,000 died from the disease. The farm is now being disinfected.

“We will ensure that the incidence will be contained effectively and swiftly to prevent the occurrence of the unfortunate outbreak of a few years ago,” Mr. Dar said.

The DA implements a “test and cull” strategy in which a sample of birds is tested for the virus, followed by a cull if the test is positive.

Compensation for farmers is set at P10 for small poultry and P80 pesos for bigger birds such as ducks and broiler chickens. The payments will be funded from the DA’s quick response fund.

The DA has placed under surveillance areas which are one kilometer (km) and seven km radius from the affected farm to contain the outbreak.

All poultry inside the one kilometer radius area are subject to testing, with security checkpoints established to prevent animal movement beyond the one-kilometer radius.

“Animal quarantine checkpoints have also been established to restrict the movement of all domestic birds to and from the one kilometer radius quarantine area,” Mr. Dar said.

Meanwhile, poultry products within the seven kilometer surveillance radius are subject to random testing.

Transport of poultry products such as day-old chicks, hatching eggs, and chicken meat within the seven kilometer zone will still be allowed as long as the farms that provided the poultry test negative for bird flu.

Undersecretary Ariel T. Cayanan said that the DA has tested nearby farms and is controlling the spread. He added that proper disposal of the culled birds are equally important.

“The main concern here is to control and contain the virus,” Mr. Cayanan added.

Layer chickens are thought to be more susceptible to the disease than broiler chickens.

The same virus subtype was also the cause of the 2017 bird flu outbreak in Pampanga and Nueva Ecija.

DA Technical Spokesperson for Avian Influenza Arlene V. Vytiaco said there is a possibility of human transmission, which she described as “very slim,” adding that the mortality rate is zero for the persons who tested positive for the virus.

Dr. Vytiaco added the outbreak was controlled due to early reporting by the farm owner.

Maaga natin na-detect so maaga ang control measures natin. Controlling measures are in place kaya wala dapat ikatakot ang public. (We detected the disease early, so the control measures were implemented as soon as possible). Controlling measures are in place which means that the public has nothing to be scared of,” she said. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave