Lab tests confirm Western Visayas remains bird-flu free
by T. Villavert
Iloilo City (6 February) -- Since year 2003 up to the present, Western Visayas and the rest of the country remain bird-flu free, according to Dr. Leriza Balopenos, regional animal health coordinator of the Department of Agriculture (DA) in Region VI during the PIA-CATV program, stressing that all laboratory tests yielded negative results for the Avian Influenza virus.
"We should still be very vigilant against the threat of the virus," Balopenos said, "because the migratory birds are still with us. The migratory birds flock to our local wetlands to escape the cold weather from in their host countries.
She said reminded the public of the DENR's Wild Life Act, which stipulates the Do Not Touch, Do Not Catch and Do Not Kill Migratory Birds.
The regional animal health coordinator also disclosed during the PIA-CATV program that as of the 2004 Avian Population Survey, Western Visayas has two million broilers, 12 thousand layers, and 13 million native chickens. The region, she said is running third in terms of poultry population nationwide.
Dr. Balopenos said that they are regularly conducting surveillance, collecting blood samples during and after their stay in the area. There are two areas in Region VI which are considered critical areas and these are in the provinces of Capiz and Negros Occidental. She emphasized also that they do not only focus in the critical areas but also in other areas where some migratory birds are preying for foods.
"Every six months, we collect blood samples from domestic fowls in areas frequented by migratory birds and send it to Manila for laboratory analysis," Dr. Balopenos said.
Meanwhile, the DA press report disclosed that the Bureau of Animal Industry has reported that as of December 2007, a total of 32,000 sera including that of the Regional Avian Influenza Laboratory and 9,000 cloacal swabs were collected from native and gamefowls, chickens, ducks and other avian species covering 15 regions, 36 provinces, 125 municipalities, 17 cities and 2,059 barangays. All the laboratory tests yielded negative results for the Avian Influenza virus. (PIA) [top]