DAVAO CITY, Philippines — The Department of Agriculture (DA) of Region 11 will be testing the city’s fowl population for any signs of avian flu amid a recorded outbreak of the virus in the country.
Dannie Apelo, veterinarian and designated spokesperson of the Avian Influenza Protection Program Task Force, said a serological surveillance will be performed in Barangay Talomo, Calinan, and another in Tugbok. These two areas have the most concentration of poultry farms in the city.
Two tests will be conducted on August 24 and 30. Another test will be conducted on September 4.
Serological surveillance involves collecting blood samples and oral swabs of birds for laboratory tests, Apelo told a press conference on Wednesday, August 16.
DA prepared to fight outbreak
Apelo assured that the Department of Agriculture has long prepared for these instances and have set up monitoring mechanisms that work to prevent any major outbreaks.
He said they regularly monitor the influx of migratory birds to the country in September and their exit in March by collecting blood and swab samples. He also announced the activation of a bird flu task force.
“We already have a bird flu task force here in region 11 and it has been activated. It is composed of the Department of Agriculture Field Office, Department of Health, Local Government Units, and other line agencies including the armed forces and the police for enforcement of regulation,” Apelo said.
He added that the veterinary quarantine service office has already been alerted for possible entry of smuggled birds from potentially affected regions.
First outbreak not pathogenic to humans
Apelo noted that the strain of the avian flu isolated in Pampanga, called the H5 strain, is pathogenic only to birds, and not humans.
However, he said the sickness must be curbed immediately, because the strain could easily mutate if it spreads to a large population of birds.
“The problem there is that the avian flu virus spreads very easily. When that happens, mutation can happen rapidly. After a few mutations, a strain that can infect humans is very likely to develop,” he added.
DA has announced the country’s first avian flu outbreak on August 11 and has since culled some 200,000 chickens in an effort to control the spread of the virus in San Luis, Pampanga.
No confirmed case of the avian flu has been recorded yet in other parts of the country, including Region 11. (davaotoday.com)