Poultry owners in central Luzon, Philippines, are being reminded by the Department of Agriculture (DA) to vaccinate their chickens against Newcastle disease and to use disinfectants to halt the spread of the disease, reported CNN Philippines.

DA Region 3 has reported the death of about 41,000 birds from the disease. Most affected have been fighting cocks and ranging chickens in the provinces of Pampanga, Tarlac and Nueva Ecija. Some of the birds were killed to prevent the further transmission of the virus.

Dr. Eduardo Lapuz Jr., chief of the region’s regulatory division has confirmed that preventative medicines have been distributed to backyard poultry keepers, and called on farmers to have their chickens tested at official veterinary labs if they show signs of disease.

With the region the main supplier of poultry meat to Metro Manila, Lapuz has sought to reassure consumers there that there will be no shortage of supplies and that there is no risk to their health.

Weather contributing factor in spreading Newcastle disease

According to a previous report from CNN Philippines, DA officials have attributed the spread of the Newcastle disease virus (NDV) to the stress of typhoons Lando and Nona weakening the immune system of the chickens although migratory birds may have been carriers.

Agriculture Undersecretary for Livestock, Jose Reaño, told Manila Times that Newcastle disease is triggered by a sudden change in temperature. He blamed the spread of NDV on the owners of fighting cocks and other poultry owners who transported their birds from and around contaminated areas.

“It’s normal, almost every year we have isolated cases, just like flu,” he said. “Only this time, the disease spread because of continuous movements. It started in fighting cocks so the virus spread in other farms.”

Reaño advised poultry raisers to screen people visiting their farms, vaccinate their birds and to stop moving them.

He said the disease started in the province of Tarlac, and then spread to Pangasinan, Bulacan, Zambales, Laguna, Quezon and some parts of Quezon City.

The Department of Agriculture has recently announced that it will give more attention to livestock and poultry production in order to mitigate the adverse effects of El Niño and typhoons.

Market conditions in Philippines

According to Agriculture Secretary, Proceso Alcala, livestock production during the fourth quarter of 2015 expanded by 3.7 percent and contributed 17.1 percent to the nation’s total agricultural output.

Overall output from the poultry sector increased by 4.2 percent for the quarter and accounted for 14.7 percent of farm production. Except for ducks, all poultry subsectors posted output increases; chicken meat production expanded by 3.6 percent.

Average farm-gate prices went down by an average of 5.7 percent during the reference quarter, with declines over the year recorded in the crop, livestock and poultry sectors, Alcala reported.