NEW CASES of avian influenza have been confirmed on Friday in two towns in Nueva Ecija province, the Department of Agriculture (DA) said.

“The confirmation was made after a series of laboratory tests on specimens gathered from quails and layer chickens were conducted by the Animal Diseases Detection Laboratory,” Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol said through his Facebook account yesterday.

The affected farms were in the towns of Jaen and San Isidro.

“Quarantine teams were immediately established even before the laboratory tests confirmed the presence of the virus,” he added.

The official said that similar to the case in neighboring Pampanga province, where the first avian influenza in years was reported on Aug. 11, the DA established a one-kilometer contained radius and a seven-kilometer controlled radius in Nueva Ecija.

“Culling operations are on-going for the other fowls in the 1-kilometer radius,” Mr. Piñol said.

Of the total population within the one-kilometer radius, the poultry affected are: 7% or some 28,000 layer chickens; around 4% or 22,000 heads of ducks; 4% of the 1.51 million native chickens; and 200,000 quails are also affected by the disease.

Earlier this week, the scare arising from the outbreak in Pampanga saw chicken and egg prices in wet markets drop and prompted major food firms to give assurances that their products are safe. — Janina C. Lim