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Birds in Candaba Swamp safe from bird flu - DENR

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 Migratory Flyway.

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,” Vitug said.

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.