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South gears up for bird flu

By: Mars W. Mosqueda, Jr., Tara Yap and Antonio Colina IV

The Department of Agriculture (DA) activated the task force against Bird Flu in Western Visayas region after the outbreak in Pampanga.

DA-6 Regional Director Remelyn Recoter said Western Visayas region is a vital transshipment point of poultry supply.

Particularly, there’s the Caticlan Port in Malay town, Aklan province that caters to Roll on-Roll off (RoRo) vessels.

With two international airports, Recoter urged constant monitoring at Kalibo International Airport in Aklan province and Iloilo International Airport. Recoter ordered animal quarantine personnel to strictly enforce quarantine laws.

Members of Western Visayas Regional Advisory Council for Animal Disease Control and Emergency (RAC-ADCE) are also urged to aggressively monitor and report unusual poultry deaths or sightings of migratory birds.

Western Visayas has population of 7.8 million native chickens, 3.1 million chicken broilers and 934,967 chicken layers.

In Davao, DA’s Region 11 office is preparing for the arrival of the migratory birds from avian flu-stricken countries that will seek refuge from winter here for eight months in five areas in Davao Region from September 2017 until April 2018.

DA 11 spokesperson for avian flu Dr. Dannie Apelo said it activated the Avian Influenza Protection Program Task Force Probinsya, an interagency group composed of DA, Department of Health, Department of Agriculture, Philippine National Police, and local government units.

He said the surveillance group will collect blood samples and pharyngeal swabs when these birds would start flocking in five identified areas across three out of five provinces and one city in the region – Banay-Banay and Lupon in Davao Oriental, Malalag in Davao del Sur, and Carmen and Braulio E. Dujali in Davao del Norte.

In Cebu, Governor Hilario Davide III has already instructed the Provincial Health Office (PHO) to be ready in case the avian flu reaches Cebu.

“As soon as the news broke out of the bird flu in Pampanga, I asked (Dr. Rene) Catan of our preparations and he said he already alerted all the province-run hospitals,” Davide said in a press conference.

Davide said the province can not take any chances although he was hoping that the bird flu will not reach Cebu.

The Cebu Provincial Veterinary Office (PVO) is also watching over the enforcement of the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI)’s order suspend the movement of chicken and other poultry merchandises coming from Luzon.