MANILA, Dec. 2 (Xinhua) -- The Philippines has been hit by a bird flu outbreak in November, Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said on Saturday.
Piñol said poultry farmers discovered the new outbreak on Nov. 12 in Cabaio town in Nueva Ecija province north of Manila. However, he added that the outbreak was "successfully contained" by the town and agriculture officials who acted swiftly to control its spread.
When the officials found out about the outbreak, Piñol said Cabiao Mayor Ramil Rivera immediately directed the local veterinary officials to submit specimens to the regional animal disease detection laboratory.
"When the tests turned out positive, (Rivera) ordered the immediate culling of 42,000 heads of egg layers completing the task on November 22," Piñol said in a Facebook post.
He said the local officials and veterinarians from the local agriculture department and animal industry bureau "successfully contained" the avian influenza case.
Piñol, who visited Cabiao on Friday, said the outbreak was not immediately made public to avoid raising the alarm like what happened in August when bird flu outbreaks were reported in Cabiao's neighboring San Isidro town and Pampanga province that resulted in the culling of some 700,000 birds.
"Following the recently approved modified protocol in handling bird flu cases, there will be no more 1-kilometer radius as containment and no 7-km radius as a controlled zone where movement of fowls will not be allowed," Piñol said.
"Under the new protocols, only fowls in the surrounding farm will be culled while those in the surrounding areas will be monitored and subjected to random tests," Piñol said.
Piñol said there is no assurance that there will be no more bird flu outbreak in the future "but unlike before, the Department of Agriculture and the sector are more prepared to handle the crisis."
Last August, the Philippines reported its first outbreak of bird flu in a poultry farm in Pampanga, a province north of Manila. At least 400,000 birds were slaughtered to contain the spread of the poultry disease.
So far, the government has not detected a case of human transmission in all the affected provinces in the main Luzon island.