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No Virus in Migrant Birds

No virus in migrant birds- anti-avian flu task force member

First posted 12:10 pm (Mla. time)
Date: Dec. 26, 2005
By: Christian Esguerra
Inquirer


MIGRATORY birds have arrived in the country and none of them has shown any sign of avian influenza, according to a member of the National Anti- Avian Influenza Task Force. An outbreak of thedeadly virus however could still be triggered by other sources, said Mayor Jerry Pelayo of Candaba town in Pampanga province.

It's winter in China, Japan, and Korea and migratory birds trying to escape the unbearable cold there, have all landed in the Philippines, said Pelayo.


Candaba

Since October, tests conducted on the birds by the Department of Agriculture have yielded negative results for any bird flu strain, said Pelayo.

"They've all arrived and none of them was found to be carrying the virus," he told the Inquirer.

"Personally, I feel we're already safe. We'll just wait for the birds to leave. But I'm not saying that we shoul let our guard down.' said Pelayo who was among the first to sound the alarm over the possible arrival of bird flu in the country.

If ever the virus hit, Pelayo said he was afraidthe Candaba swamp could become "ground zero".

Officials said an outbreak of the daedly HSNI strain would most likely come from migratory birds that usually arrive in the country in October and leave by February.

Any breakdown in port, customs or border security could allow the virus to sneak in via smuggled fowl, Pelayo said.

Pelayo was referring to the 12-hectare Candaba swamp, which is surrounded by eight barangay (villages).

He said the assessment was most likely true for the rest of the 25 wetlands in the country.

Mike Lu, president of the Wild Bird Club of the Philippines, agreed with the Candaba Mayor, saying that a clean Candaba also means the absence of infection for all other water birds or ducks.

That's because migratory birds would usually settle in Pampanga swampfirst before flying to other wetlands in the country, he said.

Lu added that Candaba was also vulnerable since the area was surrounded by local poultry. Infection was particularly easy among ducks because their feces were left in the water.

He said there were at least 60 wetlands but agriculture officials counted only top 25 for the national anti-bird flu campaign.

Another factor working in favor of the country is the "natural barriers" formed by the waters separating China, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, and the Philippines, according to Lu.

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