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PIA Press Release

Ilocos vet calls for preparedness in dealing with bird flu threat

by Aleli Aggasid-Batara

Laoag City (12 October) -- Dr. Loida Chee, provincial veterinarian, has once again warned the public of the continuing threat of avian influenza. "With the onset of the cold months, wild birds are expected to flock to the country," she said.

Ilocos Norte is considered by the provincial veterinary office (PVO) to be the first and last convergence area of migratory birds in the Philippines because of it's proximity to Chinese countries.

"Though concerted efforts by the national and local government have effectively sealed-off the country from the avian influenza in the past years, the threat still remain," Chee stressed.

The people and the LGU should not be complacent in reporting diseases and sudden death among local fowls, so we can address the problem right away, she said.

She feared that local officials maybe apprehensive to inform health authorities of a possible bird flu case in their area because of it's destabilizing effect to the economy.

"This may happen for a while but rest assured that the national government is looking into ways to cushion the impact of a bird flu scare in the country," she said.

Health officials will have to map out how it happened, and a series of confirmatory tests and surveillance work have to be done, she explained.

"We are not also discounting human factors, such as smuggling of exotic animals, as a way by which the H5N1 virus could enter the country, that's why the authorities are keeping a tight watch over entry and exit points in the province like the Currimao Port and Laoag International Airport," she added.

Chee assured that for it's part, the provincial government is continuously monitoring the 18 potential risk areas and surrounding villages. Some of the identified sites being monitored are: Paoay lake; Saud in Pagudpud; Manayon swamp in Bangui; Billoca fishfarm in Batac; and ricelands in barangay San Lorenzo in San Nicolas.

"We are one of the few areas in the country that have been religiously submitting blood and fecal samples to the Bureau of Animal Industry under the Department of Agriculture (BAI-DA) from all these sites," the lady veterinarian reported.

The test sampling, which is done twice a year, require 30 specimens from 6 villages within and around each of the 18 sites, Chee explained.

"We gathered more than 1,000 samples during the first quarter and all yielded negative results," she said.

"Massive information campaign will be conducted in critical spots around the province by November in time with the next specimen gathering," Chee added. (PIA) [top]

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