Task force on avian influenza organized in Biliran

PIA Press Release

Naval, Biliran (17 August) — As part of the contingency plan to prevent the spread of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) or commonly known as bird flu in the province of Biliran, a task force on Avian Influenza was organized.

The task force is chaired by Governor Rogelio J. Espina with the Department of Agriculture (DA), Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), Integrated Provincial Helath Office (IPHO), Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), Department of Education (DepEd), Provincial Veterinary Office (PVO), and the Philippine Information Agency (PIA) as members.

Bird flu or Avian Influenza is a contagious disease of animals caused by viruses that normally infect birds and fowls and less commonly, pigs. While all bird species are susceptible to infection, domestic poultry are especially vulnerable to infections that can rapidly reach epidemic proportions.

Memorandum Circular No. 2004-37 of the Department of the Interior and local Government (DILG) encourages support for the prevention and control of Avian Influenza of bird flu.

Many countries in Asia such as Vietnam, South Korea, Japan, China, Indonesia, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, Taiwan and Pakistan are reported to have been affected by bird flu.

The transmission of bird flu is through direct contact with secretions from infected birds, excretion especially feces, contaminated feed water, equipment and clothing.

Clinically normal and waterfowl and sea birds may introduce the virus into flocks and broken contaminated eggs which may infect chicks in the incubator.

Swollen blue combs and wattles, depression, low appetite, decrease in egg production, nervous signs, sneezing, diarrhea and sudden death are the common symptoms in birds, chickens and other fowls affected with bird flu.

According to Dr. Andrew T. Orais, GMA Livestock Coordiantor of the Department of Agriculture (DA) Regional Office No. 8, bird flu will definitely affect the economy as poultry meat is one of the potential products for export of the country.

The country has exported frozen chicken meat from January to June 2005 with a total of 3,506,752 kilograms to countries like Australia, Japan and other countries abroad and day old chick of more than 200,000 heads.

On the other hand, Dr. Leo D. Mira, Regional Veterinary Quarantine Officer of DA Regional Office No. 8 said that the creation of a task force on bird flu is a preventive measure to ensure that necessary plan of actions are in place when bird flu will occur in the community.

He added that the creation of a local task force on bird flu was prompted because of the reported case of bird flu in Calumpit, Bulacan on July 8, 2005.

It was found out that no active infection in the duck samples that were tested and that the ducks have been exposed to a low pathogenic avian virus but their natural immune systems apparently eliminated the low-risk flu strain.

The examination was conducted by the Australian Animal Health Laboratory, the regional reference laboratory for avian influenza of the International des Epizooties (OIE) or the World Organization for Animal Health and the Food and Agriculture organization (FAO) on July 18, 2005.

As a first step of the newly created task force on bird flu, each member-agency is required to submit an action plan geared towards coming up with an effective preventive measures and efficient response mechanisms to combat bird flu. (PIA-Biliran)