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South Cotabato intensifies monitoring and surveillance of bird flu

Posted by Michille on March 30th, 2007

by Edgar B. dela Cruz/Aida C. Agad

Koronadal, South Cotabato (30 March) — The South Cotabato Provincial Veterinary office had intensified its monitoring and surveillance efforts to avert the possible outbreak of bird flu in the province and other neighboring places hoping to overturn the forecast made by experts that “the Philippines will be affected by this dreaded disease in 2007.”

Provincial Veterinarian Dr. Lorna Lamorena said that their office is now busy monitoring and conducting an intensified surveillance in some areas of the province that are most accessible to migratory birds and that may be infected with bird flu, aside from giving services and technical assistance that would strengthen the immune system of animals in said areas.

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (UNFAO) reported that the current status of Avian Influenza worldwide indicates that out of 79 cases in Indonesia 61 human deaths were recorded and considered highest among Asian countries.

Dr. Lamorena stressed “it is quiet alarming here in the province because there has yet no reported Avian Influenza outbreak in the Philippines and here now comes the forecast that in year 2007 Avian Influenza will affect the entire country.” With this, the government has now prioritized the extensive monitoring and surveillance of wildlife migration, habitat of migratory birds and their movements and other possible areas prone to this disease.

Lamorena, however assured that so far there’s yet no reported incursion or incidence of Avian Influenza in the province based on the blood samples of birds which are earlier suspected to be infected with the virus. These samples submitted to the Bureau of Animal Industry last January 2007 for laboratory test yield negative result. This, however did not leave the provincial veterinary office to be complacent as collective efforts are still focused on the prevention of the outbreak in the province to dispel people’s alarm that this 2007 we might be inflicted by this dreaded disease.

Dr. Lamorena also explained that Bird Flu or Avian Influenza or H5N1 does not apply to human. “When you say bird flu it is a disease of fowl. The disease of human is Human Influenza or H5H1. You can not get sick with bird flu but with Human Influenza.”

Reports show that the bird flu or avian influenza (H5N1) has spread in Asia, Central and Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa since it was initially reported in late 2003. Accordingly, this is characterized by high mortality and morbidity in poultry, fatal cases in humans and several other mammalian species and wild birds. Over 240 million poultry have been killed or culled. 258 human cases were reported infected and 153 have died.

Why has this situation emerged? Population of chickens has exploded in Asia, population of ducks have increased significantly especially in East and Southeast Asia. People have become more mobile and with that transport of animals moved faster, so birds move more quickly and further. Expansion of industrial production has not been accompanied by compliance with necessary sanitary biosafety standards.

What has been achieved? A lot of training has already been undertaken and capacity in the field of laboratories strengthened. Big efforts made in public education and continued collaboration between agencies had improved notably. The HPAI epidemic has proved to be an opportunity to get some generic support to strengthen animal health services. It is no longer galloping epidemic as in 2004. Many “free” countries have contingency plans and so are in better shape to deal with the incursion than before. Some countries have reduced the disease to splutter in the background or eliminated it by stamping out and have control programs in place that appear to continually dampen disease right down as monitoring continues. (PIA 12)


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