Cockfights off as bird flu hits Pampanga

 / 05:19 AM August 23, 2017

GUAGUA, Pampanga — Rolando Regala went to a cockpit arena in Barangay San Roque here on Tuesday and learned there was going to be no “soltada” (derby) for the day. Holding a neighbor’s stag (7 to 8 month old game fowl) which was put in his care, Regala checked out the empty “gradas” (cockpit).

“‘Kristo’ (bet takers) like me won’t get to earn today, like last Saturday,” said the 40-year-old father of three. He earns around P1,000 during derbies on Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays from commissions handed out by winning players.

Regala’s source of income was affected when owners or operators of 16 cockpit arenas in Pampanga province complied with a local ordinance that banned all cockfights, bird exhibits and other sporting activities for two weeks as a precaution against the avian flu outbreak in San Luis

The ordinance cited the need to “prevent or lessen the possible adverse effect on the local economy, ensure public health, safety and general welfare of the people of Pampanga.”

“I understand why the cockfights have to be suspended. It’s good to be on the side of prevention,” Regala said.

To stave off hunger, Regala sent his wife and children to his in-laws. For the meantime, he planned to work as a parking attendant.

Around 200 bet takers in western Pampanga are in the same predicament.

Albert Celso, 44, borrowed money from relatives. “I hope the ban [on cockfights] won’t be extended to a month. We will die of hunger,” he said.

Victor Gopez has not earned the P400 he gets from each winning player as a “manari,” or one who installs blades on fighting cocks.

“I heard the bird flu outbreak in San Luis has been handled properly. It did not spread to game fowls so I think cockfights should resume,” Gopez said.

Gambling or hobby money not circulating in the local economy can amount to millions of pesos. The Bacolor cockpit arena alone draws as many as 1,000 players. If each player has P10,000 to bet, a cockpit loses P10 million for a day of derbies.

Also on the losing end are feed millers, food vendors, canteen operators, utility workers, “llamador” (bet listers), “kasador” (handlers of large bets) and matchmakers. Also affected were workers in “bularit” or illegal cockpits in villages.

For example, Amelita Ganzon, 67, was unable to earn P200 from selling cigarettes and coffee at the cockpit arena in San Roque.

Bacolor Mayor Jomar Hizon, also president of the Kapampangan Game Fowl Breeders (KGBA), said a general assembly on Aug. 20 showed that no stocks from his group’s 300 members had been infected by the avian flu. KGBA employs more than 900 people.

“But we realize this can ruin the entire cockfighting industry. We have to put in place standards in biosecurity,” said Hizon, who has been breeding fighting cocks since he was 17.

If each farm breeds 1,000 cocks sold at a minimum of P6,000 each, the 300 KGBA members could face losses of up to P180 million on birds alone, or even P500 million when expenses in breeding stocks, fees and operational costs are added, Hizon said.

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Philippines warns against killing of migratory birds amid avian flu outbreak

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-birdflu-philippines-idUSKCN1AT077

MANILA (Reuters) – The Philippines on Sunday warned citizens not to kill or poach migratory birds that usually fly in from China, the possible source of a virus that triggered the Southeast Asian nation’s first outbreak of avian flu, to avoid worsening the situation.

There has been no case of human transmission but the virus prompted a cull of 200,000 fowl last week after it was detected on a farm in the province of Pampanga, north of the capital Manila, and spread to five neighboring farms.

Migratory birds or smuggled ducks from China may have brought in the virus, Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol has said.

The bird migration season in the Philippines usually starts around September, with the birds returning to their breeding grounds the following March, Mundita Lim, director of the Biodiversity Management Bureau (BMB), said in an advisory.

“The culling, poisoning or chasing of migratory birds is strongly discouraged as they have proven ineffective and counterproductive,” she added.

Sick or dead wild birds should immediately be reported to the Department of Agriculture to allow checks for the virus, Lim said, urging breeders in areas frequented by migratory birds to guard their flocks against contact with them.

Early tests of the virus in the avian flu outbreak ruled out the highly pathogenic H5N1 strain, but Philippine officials have sought further testing by an Australian animal health laboratory that is part of a global network combating the disease.

The Philippines is monitoring the quality and prices of poultry products in its markets, but believes farm authorities have managed to isolate and contain the virus, the presidential palace said in a statement.

Roy Cimatu, the secretary of environment and natural resources, said his department would step up surveillance against efforts to smuggle wild birds by sea and air.

Reporting by Enrico dela Cruz; Editing by Clarence Fernandez

Chicken vendors turn to selling pork amid bird flu outbreak in Pampanga

http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/news/regions/621736/chicken-vendors-turn-to-selling-pork-amid-bird-flu-outbreak-in-pampanga/story/

Published August 14, 2017 8:31am

 

Poultry vendors at a public market in San Luis, Pampanga have temporarily stopped selling chicken amid the bird flu outbreak.

According to a report by Victoria Tulad on Unang Balita on Monday, vendors said they canceled deliveries of chicken in anticipation of low market demand.

Instead, vendors have increased their orders for pork and fish.

Pork prices have been stable at the market—P190 per kilo for laman (innards), P200 per kilo for liempo, P160 to P165 per kilo of buto-buto (soup bones), P165 per kilo for ribs, P190 per kilo for pork chop, and P140 per kilo of pata.

One of the vendors, Brenda Maglaqui, said she tried selling chicken on Saturday but no one bought any. Most market-goers chose to buy fish and other seafood instead.

Fish vendors Victoria spoke to said some fish varities sold higher due to the high demand.

A kilo of dalagang bukid, for instance, which used to sell for P120 per kilo, now sells for P160. Hasa-hasa, which was at P160 per kilo before, is now being selling for P180. Squid sells for P200 per kilo, while yellowfin tuna is now pegged at P180 per kilo from the previous P160.

Pork sellers worry that the prices of choice cuts may have to be increased in the coming days due to the lack of supply.

Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol on Friday disclosed a bird flu outbreak at a poultry farm in Barangay San Agustin, San Luis, Pampanga.

The mass slaughter or culling of thousands of chickens believed infected with avian flu in at least eleven poultry farms in San Luis, Pampanga followed starting Sunday, an official of the Bureau of Animal Industry said. —KG/KVD, GMA News

Bird flu pandemic worse than 2009 swine flu outbreak could be on its way to Britain

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/bird-flu-pandemic-worse-2009-10681493

A bird flu pandemic could be heading Britain’s way, warn scientists (Photo: Reuters)

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Scientists fear a bird flu pandemic worse than the 2009 swine flu outbreak could be heading Britain’s way.

And the UK is making no preparations for a vaccine to prevent it.

Shadow Health Secretary Jonathan Ashworth said: “Given the severity of the warnings, the Government ought to say what measures it is taking to improve preparedness to deal with an outbreak like this.”

More than 1,300 bird flu victims have been identified, mostly in China.

Of those, 476 have died, a rate of more than one in three.

There are also victims in Indonesia, Egypt and Vietnam, and two cases in Canada of people travelling from China.

Jon Ashworth wants the Government to outline what measures it is taking to improve preparedness(Photo: Getty)

The virus, H7N9, has so far only been caught by humans from birds or a close family member who is infected.

But scientists say that it is only two mutations away from widespread human-to-human transmission.

A warning in New Scientist magazine says: “If the virus evolves the ability to spread between humans easily, it will go pandemic and circle the world in weeks.”

Flu experts say if that happens it is likely to be more severe than the H1N1 swine flu pandemic that swept Britain eight years ago.

The virus, H7N9, has so far only been caught by humans from birds or a close family member who is infected

They fear it could rival the 1918 pandemic when a bird flu strain killed up to 100million people worldwide.

The 2009 swine flu outbreak in Britain struck 800,000 people and caused more than 280 deaths.

The US Centre for Disease Control said: “It is possible that this latest virus could gain the ability to spread easily and sustainably among people, triggering a global outbreak.”

A Public Health England (PHE) spokesman said, “The risk of the influenza A H7N9 strain to residents in the UK remains very low, and similarly for those travelling to China.

“However, we are monitoring and we advise precautions are taken to protect those travelling against possible infection.

“These precautions include avoiding visiting live animal markets and poultry farms and avoiding contact with animal waste or untreated bird feathers. Only eat thoroughly cooked poultry, egg or duck dishes and always thoroughly wash your hands with soap and warm water. Do not touch dead or dying birds in China and do not bring poultry products back to the UK.”

Factory farming aggravates Korea’s bird flu outbreaks: OECD report

 http://www.koreaherald.com/view.php?ud=20170620000807

kh close

Published : 2017-06-20 15:20
Updated : 2017-06-20 17:42

The poor breeding conditions at poultry farms in South Korea may have accelerated the spread of the bird flu virus, said a report by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

According to the report titled “OECD Producer Incentives in Livestock Disease Management: Korea Case Study,” battery cage-facilities at poultry farms and stockbreeding farmhouses have made worse the bird flu damage and fast spread of a highly pathogenic strain of bird flu in recent decades.

Such facilities, made up of rows and columns of identical cages connected together like cells, can house millions of birds, but hens spend their entire lives in the cages with a floor space about the size of a sheet of A4 paper.

Health authorities in Gunsan, North Jeolla Province quarantine a chicken farm on June 3, 2017, after a suspected case of avian influenza was reported. (Yonhap)

Since early this month, the government has been grappling with a fresh outbreak of bird flu and 185,000 chickens have been culled so far as part of containment measures.

South Korea’s livestock industry has expanded rapidly since the 1990s. The proportion of the agriculture industry’s output accounted for by the livestock industry shot up from 23 percent in 1995 to 42 percent in 2015.

Livestock diseases have continued to reoccur in battery cage-facilities, which were used at poultry farms here to expand stockbreeding farmhouses, the report said.

The report also warned that the government lacks awareness and measures to strengthen farming facility management in the country.

Governmental support in terms of direct compensation of small livestock holders related to livestock epidemics should be implemented, the report said.

Although the bird flu virus has been a constant issue since last year, the South Korean government has not offered clear reasons for the worsening situation, blaming migratory birds instead.

Experts and animal rights activists have been demanding that the authorities come up with regulatory improvements in Korea’s overall poultry farming systems and upgrade quarantine measures.

Professor Kim Jae-hong of Seoul National University’s College of Veterinary Medicine said that “it would be strange if the virus does not spread in such a filthy environment. Damage (from the bird flue outbreak) could have been minimized if there was an upgrade in farming systems that provides a healthy environment for poultry breeding, considering animal health and welfare.”

Developed countries in Europe, where most stockbreeding farms have abandoned conventional battery cages for animal welfare reasons, have seen a low percentage of bird flu outbreaks.

In 2012, the European Union Council banned the use of battery cages after scientists observed signs of extremely abnormal behaviors in caged hens. The number of eggs produced in battery cage-facilities in the EU has rapidly decreased since then.

By Kim Da-sol (ddd@heraldcorp.com)

The first case of a human contracting the H7N9 strain of avian influenza has been registered in China’s northern province of Shanxi, local media reported Wednesday.

https://sputniknews.com/asia/201705171053685264-china-bird-flu-human/

BEIJING (Sputnik) — A 66-year-old woman from the city of Datong was diagnosed with the avian virus and has since been hospitalized, the Xinhua news agency said, adding that the patient remains in grave but stable condition. Those who were in contact with the woman did not reportedly show any symptoms of infection.The first case of a human contracting avian influenza virus was registered in China in March 2013. In January and February, the outbreaks of the H7N9 strain were recorded in a number of Chinese regions, while in March alone, a total of 47 died and 96 were infected from the disease, the news agency detailed, citing the national health and family planning commission.

According to the World Health organization (WHO), avian influenza H7N9 is a subtype of influenza viruses detected primarily in birds, but human cases have been recorded since 2013. The asymptomatic disease is particularly dangerous because it has the potential to make patients severely ill.

Chinese Chicken Is Headed To America, But It’s Really All About The Beef

Listen·3:18

Chicken meat for sale at a market in Anhui province, China.

VCG via Getty Images

Cooked chicken from birds grown and raised in China soon will be headed to America — in a trade deal that’s really about beef.

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross announced Thursday night that the U.S. was greenlighting Chinese chicken imports and getting U.S. beef producers access to China’s nearly 1.4 billion consumers. But the deal is raising concerns among critics who point to China’s long history of food-safety scandals.

The Chinese appetite for beef is huge and growing, but American beef producers have been locked out of that market since a case of mad cow disease cropped up in the U.S. in 2003. In response, many countries, including South Korea, Japan, Mexico and China, banned imports of U.S. beef.

China was the only one of those nations to not eventually lift its ban — and that’s a big deal.

“It’s a very big market; it’s at least a $2.5 billion market that’s being opened up for U.S. beef,” Ross said in announcing the trade deal.

Many people long had seen China’s refusal to lift its ban on U.S. beef imports as a negotiating tactic, a tit for tat aimed at allowing Chinese chicken imports into the United States. The negotiations that led to the new trade deal have been going back and forth for more than a decade, stalled at one point by worries in Congress over China’s food-safety practices.

American beef producers are rejoicing that the process has finally resulted in allowing them to send beef to China.

“After being locked out of the world’s largest market for 13 years, we strongly welcome the announcement that an agreement has been made to restore U.S. beef exports to China,” Craig Uden, president of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, said in a statement. “It’s impossible to overstate how beneficial this will be for America’s cattle producers, and the Trump administration deserves a lot of credit for getting this achieved.”

The U.S. should be cleared to export beef to China by mid-July. That’s also the deadline for the U.S. to finalize rules for the importation of cooked chicken products from China. Why cooked chicken instead of raw?

“For a country to be able to ship meat and poultry products into the U.S., they have to demonstrate that their food-safety inspection system is equivalent to the system here in the U.S.,” explains Brian Ronholm, who served as deputy undersecretary for food safety at the U.S. Department of Agriculture under the Obama administration.

“The equivalency determination process for China as it relates to processed [cooked] chicken products had been underway, and this deal expedites this process,” he says. “China also is seeking equivalency for their inspection system for slaughter facilities, but that will be a longer process.”

Given the many outbreaks of avian flu China has experienced, there are also worries that if raw Chinese poultry were processed in the U.S., it could potentially contaminate American plants or somehow spread to birds here in the States.

Tony Corbo, a senior lobbyist for the food campaign at Food & Water Watch, an environmental advocacy group, has been raising concerns about efforts to open the U.S. market to Chinese chicken imports for years. He questions the Chinese government’s ability to enforce food-safety standards, given its poor track record.

That record includes rat meat being sold as lamb, oil recovered from drainage ditches in gutters being sold as cooking oil, and baby formula contaminated with melamine that sickened hundreds of thousands of babies and killed six. In 2014, a Shanghai food-processing factory that supplied international restaurant brands including McDonald’s and KFC was caught selling stale meat, repackaged with new expiration dates.

Corbo points out that last December, China’s own Food and Drug Administration reported it had uncovered as many as a half-million cases of food-safety violations just in the first three quarters of 2016.

That said, the USDA has gone to China to inspect plants that would process the chicken to be shipped to America. But Corbo finds little comfort in that. “You don’t know from moment to moment how China is enforcing food-safety standards,” Corbo says.

In recent months, a team from the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service has traveled to China to train Chinese officials in meat safety.

One thing Thursday’s trade deal did not address: U.S. poultry exports to China. The U.S. used to send a lot of chicken feet over to China, where they are a delicacy. But China banned U.S. chicken imports in 2015, after an outbreak of avian flu in the Midwest.

China “was a $750 million market just a few years ago, and now it’s essentially zero. It was one of our most important markets,” says Jim Sumner, president of the USA Poultry and Egg Export Council.

But Sumner isn’t worried about the new competition from Chinese chicken in the U.S. In fact, he welcomes it as an important step in reopening the Chinese market to U.S. poultry producers.

“Trade is a two-way street,” he says.

It’s not clear how soon after mid-July we can expect to see cooked chicken products from China in U.S. supermarkets. Sumner says he doesn’t expect the product to overwhelm store shelves, because the economics of raising chickens in China and then shipping them to America still favors U.S. producers.

Maria Godoy is a senior editor with NPR News and host of The Salt. She’s on Twitter: @mgodoyh

Avian flu restrictions at Cotswold Wildlife Park gave the birds another type of fever… the love bug!

 http://www.banburycake.co.uk/news/15241796.Avian_flu_restrictions_at_wildlife_park_gave_the_birds_another_type_of_fever___/

12 hrs ago / by Pete Hughes

LONG periods in close confinement can have strange effects on people, and, in the case of the birds at Cotswold Wildlife Park, the results were rather surprising.

Park keepers were forced to lock up hundreds of tropical and exotic birds in December under nationwide avian flu precautions issued by the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA).

That meant Cotswold Wildlife Park, like farmers in Oxfordshire and across the county, had to keep all birds indoors until further notice.

When the restrictions were finally lifted this month park keepers started unlocking cages only to discover the long period in close quarters had seemingly created a romantic mood, and several species had begun breeding.

As a result the Bird Walkthrough at Cotswold’s Walled Garden, home to the scarlet ibis, Bali starlings and others will remain closed until further notice.

Curator Jamie Craig explained: “Following the news from Defra that avian influenza restrictions have now been lifted, the tropical house and lake area are once again open to visitors. We remain vigilant and are prepared to take action should the situation change.

“The Bird Walkthrough in the Walled Garden remains closed as several bird species started to breed during the time of the recent restrictions. As not to disturb the breeding birds at this delicate stage, the enclosure is currently closed but is fully visible to visitors.”

The avian flu restrictions came in after the disease was detected in more than 5,000 birds on a poultry farm near Louth in Lincolnshire.

It was the first confirmed case in Britain of the highly pathogenic H5N8 strain, which had already been circulating in countries across Europe, from Poland to France.

DEFRA announced on April 11 that all poultry was to be once again allowed out as of the 13th

UK chief veterinary officer Nigel Gibbens said that while the H5N8 strain of bird flu which caused more than 1,000 outbreaks across Europe over winter may remain in the environment, the danger of cross-contamination had subsided.

A ban on gatherings of poultry, such as pure breed showings, remains in place until further notice.

It’s especially good timing for Cotswold Wildlife Park as the the new came just in time to celebrate World Penguin Day

Bird Flu Pandemic Hasn’t Changed Atrocious Conditions at Poultry Farms

http://koreabizwire.com/bird-flu-pandemic-hasnt-changed-atrocious-conditions-at-poultry-farms/80831

The government’s recent move to encourage bigger cages in order to prevent another avian influenza from spreading on a massive scale like the one which transpired last November is being met with a lukewarm reception and skepticism among critics over the lax nature of the newly introduced rules. (Image: Kobiz Media)

The government’s recent move to encourage bigger cages in order to prevent another avian influenza from spreading on a massive scale like the one which transpired last November is being met with a lukewarm reception and skepticism among critics over the lax nature of the newly introduced rules. (Image: Kobiz Media)

SEOUL, April 17 (Korea Bizwire) – Despite new government measures that require farmers to make use of larger cages, the horrific conditions that poultry live under at typical factory farms in South Korea are unlikely to change soon, which have been identified as one of the major factors behind the recent influenza Type A pandemic that causes illness to people.

The government’s recent move to encourage bigger cages in order to prevent another avian influenza from spreading on a massive scale like the one which transpired last November is being met with a lukewarm reception and skepticism among critics over the lax nature of the newly introduced rules.

Existing poultry farms will have 10 years to update their old cages in accordance with the new standards, but critics say the grace period is too long, and that simply making cages slightly bigger won’t get to the root of the problem.

According to current laws regarding poultry farming, chickens are being raised in a space smaller the size of an A4 sheet of paper (0.05 square meters or 0.5 square feet), which means 1 square meter per 20 chickens. When the new rules take place, poultry farms will be required to have their cages built at least 0.075 square meters in size.

The EU already banned (in 2003) the construction of any more of the so-called battery cages, a term that refers to small wire cages in which hens spend their entire lives with little to no space to move around. Since a total ban on battery cages took place in 2012, an increasing number of farmers have adopted free-range farming.

South Korean poultry farms however, have been bucking the trend and engaging in activities that border on animal cruelty, such as keeping the lights on during the night to maximize egg production, exploiting a physiological phenomenon in which a drastic environmental change suddenly increases the egg production of hens.

Despite opposition from animal rights groups, little has been done to secure the wellbeing of farm animals in South Korea.

A representative from the Korea Association for Animal Protection (KAAP), Lee Won-bok, was critical of the government’s move to tackle avian influenza, calling it a ‘makeshift plan’ that will bring little to no change.

“AI pandemics occur almost every year due to the poor living conditions of farm animals, not because of the size of cages,” Lee said.

Hyunsu Yim (hyunsu@koreabizwire.com)

Bird Flu Is a Big Deal. Of Course Trump Wants to Defund the Best Way to Contain It

http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2017/03/avian-flu-spreading-dont-tell-donald-trump

The virus has now hit Georgia, the No. 1 poultry-producing state—and Trump plans to cut surveillance funds.

For the second time in less than three years, avian flu is moving through industrial-scale US chicken facilities. Republicans in power seem too fixated on budget-cutting to notice.

First, President Donald Trump and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan pushed a health care plan that would have slashed funding to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the federal agency that tracks farm flu outbreaks and works with the US Department of Agriculture and local authorities to “minimize any human health risk” they cause.

Given that avian flu is on the march again, one might think it prudent to keep that cash around, devoted to monitoring the 2017 outbreak.

That effort collapsed, but now Trump is taking a more direct whack at flu-tracking funding. A couple of Politico reporters got hold of a budget-cutting proposal the Trump team is circulating in Congress. The document lists $1 billion in suggested cuts to the US Department of Agriculture’s discretionary spending in 2017—which is separate from the “21 percent proposed reduction for USDA that the administration included in its 2018 budget outline released earlier this month,” Politico reports.

Among the cuts being sought for 2017, the Trump team seeks to extract funds from a USDA program funded by Congress in 2015 to address the flu problem that swept through the Midwest that year, triggering the euthanasia of 50 million birds and causing egg prices to spike. Congress had allocated $1 billion for it, of which $80 million is left. Given that avian flu is on the march again, one might think it prudent to keep that cash around, devoted to monitoring the 2017 outbreak. Trump’s budget people have other ideas—they want to take away $50 million of the $80 million left over. Politico quotes the document:

The response to the FY15 [fiscal-year 2015] outbreak is complete, and USDA should still have enough balances to respond to the two recent HPAI [high pathogenic avian influenza] outbreaks in TN [Tennessee] this year.

Of course, this year’s avian flu, albeit a less virulent strain, has broken out of Tennessee, swept into Alabama and Kentucky, and has now alighted in Georgia, the nation’s No. 1 chicken-producing state. It would be interesting to know what Former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue, Trump’s still-pending pick to lead the USDA, thinks of that proposed money-saving measure.

While the CDC insists that the risk that people will come down with the current avian flu strain is “low,” it does work with the Department of Agriculture and state authorities on tracking outbreaks. That’s because health officials have been warningfor decades that massive livestock confinements make an ideal breeding ground for new virus strains, including potentially ones that can jump from bird to human, and then spread among humans. Meanwhile, a different strain of avian flu has swept across Japan, South Korea, and China. It has killed 140 people but has not proved capable of spreading from human to human.