The Manila Times
Saturday, March 04, 2006
Birds in Candaba Swamp
safe from bird flu—DENR
SAN FERNANDO, Pampanga: The Department of Environment and
Natural Resources on Friday announced that the migratory birds
passing through the country, specifically those landing in
Candaba Swamp, are safe and have no signs of the highly pathogenic
avian influenza virus (H5NI).
Department officials said this shortly
after the completion of its nationwide monitoring of wetlands
and migratory birds, in line with the government’s
campaign to prevent the entry of the deadly H5NI bird-flu
virus into the country.
Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau Director Virgilio Vitug
said that all reports submitted to his office from the department’s
regional office nationwide did not indicate unusual mortalities
among migratory birds.
“This means that the Philippines is still bird flu-free”
Vitug said. He said that an unusual number of mortalities
could be a sign that birds are infected with the virus or
some other highly pathogenic subtypes of the virus. Vitug
added that the Philippines is an important part of the Asian/Australian
Annually, he said, thousands of shorebirds pass through
the country on their way to other regions to escape the
harsh winter in their countries of origin. “During
their passage here, the migratory birds take temporary shelter
in various wetland areas, such as Olango Island, Candaba
Swamp, Agusan Marsh, Liguasan Marsh and Naujan Lake,”
Most of the migratory birds that visit the country come
from China, Siberia and Mongolia. Studies show that migratory
birds are suspected to be carriers of H5NI, which has infected
millions of poultry in various parts of the globe.
Latest reports also indicate the virus has caused 92 human
deaths since its first reported outbreak in 2003. The environment
department earlier mounted strict monitoring of the country’s
more than 50 wetland areas nationwide in time for the influx
of migratory birds.
The monitoring was conducted by the DENR, along with Wild
Bird Club of the Philippines, a nongovernment organization.