Birds in Linguasan Marsh safe from bird flu virus
The Manila Times
(March 02, 2006)
GENERAL SANTOS CITY: The Department of Agriculture said the migratory birds that have flocked to the marshlands of Central Mindanao are not carriers of the deadly avian-flu virus.
Mustapha Ismael, DA-Central Mindanao technical director, said recent tests on domestic fowls from at least four municipalities of Cotabato province situated near the 288,000-hectare Liguasan Marsh showed the birds to be negative of the avian-flu virus.
A DA report noted that the Bureau of Animal Industry earlier took blood samples of domestic fowls from the municipalities of Midsayap, Pikit, Kabacan and Tulunan in Cotabato province.
The Liguasan Marsh is among the 20 areas in the country earlier identified by agriculture department as “bird-flu hot spots” being a primary entry point of migratory birds.
The four towns were included among the areas that would possibly be affected first in case an epidemic of the deadly virus occurs.
“The negative result of the blood tests showed that Central Mindanao or the Soccsksargen region and its neighboring areas have remained bird-flu free,” the BAI said.
Soccsksargen covers the provinces of South Cotabato, Cotabato, Sarangani, Sultan Kudarat and the cities of General Santos, Koronadal, Cotabato, Kidapawan and Tacurong.
Despite such negative findings, Ismael said their office continues to be vigilant in monitoring the coastal areas since Indonesia, one of the countries affected by the virus, is near Mindanao.
“There is a need for us to work hand in hand because we are vulnerable to the spread of bird flu,” he said.
Dr. John Pascual, DA-Central Mindanao livestock coordinator, urged local residents to be cautious in buying imported poultry products.
“Although there is no evidence yet of positive transmission of the virus to humans from raw chilled or frozen poultry foods, there is no assurance also that they may be free of the bird flu strain,” he said.