(photo credit: The Online Citizen)
“FIRST up on our list is Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore‘s (AVA) new reason for culling chickens (or was it *gasp* red junglefowl?) In a letter to Today’s Voices page, Dr Yap Him Hoo, director-general of the AVA, says that the birds were culled because of the risk of bird flu due to rising populations getting infected by migratory birds.
Dr Yap said that media reports had given the wrong impression that the birds were killed because of complaints about noise, when in fact it was the noise complaints that drew AVA’s attention to a rising risk of bird flu.
No mention was made of why the clarification came only two weeks after the first news reports. No word of the clarification was published in ST. ” (Feb 14, 2017 09.02AM |
So what is the public to make of this latest “clarification” from the AVA Chief? It has clarified nothing and in fact adds to the litany of poorly crafted responses to an already indignant public, given that his agency seems so incapable of providing straight and direct-to-the-point answers so far?
Flowing from what is presently on the AVA website on avian flu and the culling of the chickens, there are a few questions that the AVA should clarify:
a. The AVA has been saying in its own Q&A that”It is highly unlikely that the stray chickens have bird flu.” So can the AVA account for its change of mind regarding the level of avian flu threat posed by the jungle chicken? If so, why isn’t the AVA website updated to reflect the changed situation to alert Singaporeans? Its Q&A is still maintaining that “It is highly unlikely that the stray chickens have bird flu.”
b. Importantly, did the AVA send the culled chickens from Sin Ming to the laboratory to check for the presence or otherwise of avian flu? If not, why not? Since the AVA has already been testing the blood samples of wild birds, pigeons, mynah to keep tabs on them, there seems NO REASON not to include the wild chickens in the monitoring programme, especially now that the agency has raised the spectre of bird flu threat from them?
c. On what scientific basis is the AVA going to proceed now with the rest of the wild chicken population on the island? Systematically culling them all in view of “rising risk”? For that matter, what about the pigeons, crows, mynahs, sparrows, and other wild birds? Although the culling had presented the AVA with a golden opportunity to confirm (or otherwise) whether the culled chickens had the disease or were free of it, it had apparently not bothered to do so. Just imagine, it spite of what AVA is now claiming as its reason for the culling, it appeared not interested in nor appreciated the importance of following up with laboratory testing of the culled chickens for the virus, something that any competent public health agency would have a vested interest in in wanting to know, to find the evidence if any, and therefore add to its knowledge base about the spread or otherwise of the virus locally among the wild chickens and to decide from there what to do next. Surely, this is vital input towards the formulation of the overall disease control and management measures being contemplated for the wild chickens and other fauna on the island? Instead, it has apparently chosen to remain blind – so that it could give the same reason again to slaughter some more of these wild chickens? It would be unbelievably lackadaisical on AVA’s part if that is the case!
Or, could it be that the AVA has actually examined the culled chickens for bird flu, and found none? And is keeping silent now for fear of the repercussions from the public and relevant NGOs? Would we ever know?