GENERAL SANTOS CITY, Philippines – Veterinary officials in General Santos City and South Cotabato stepped up measures over the threat posed by bird flu that has been detected in Tacurong City in Sultan Kudarat.
Officials said they were worried because General Santos and South Cotabato are hosts to huge poultry farms, and are among the major sources of dressed chickens in Mindanao.
General Santos and South Cotabato produce an average of 20 million dressed chickens each month.
Assistant General City veterinarian Emilio Gargaran said authorities have strictly regulated the transport and shipment of fowl and poultry products into the city.
In South Cotabato, the provincial government ordered a month-long ban on the entry of chickens, poultry products, gamefowl, and domestic birds.
Even bringing chicken dung, used as fertilizers, was prohibited in the province by South Cotabato Governor Reynaldo Tamayo Jr. starting this week.
The province has at least 10 villages that share a common boundary with Tacurong City.
Dr. Byron de la Cruz, animal health and regulatory division chief of the South Cotabato Provincial Veterinary Office, said they were monitoring at least 10 villages in the towns of Tantangan and Norala that are within a seven-kilometer radius containment and surveillance zone.
Tacurong City Veterinary Services Office chief Allan Alimajen confirmed that they detected Avian Influenza Type A subtype H5N1 or bird flu in two duck farms in the villages of Baras and Kalandagan.
One of the two affected barangays is host to the Baras Bird Sanctuary frequented by migratory birds, like herons, and wild ducks.
Alimajen said the discovery of the bird flu cases was confirmed as early as March 4 by the Animal Disease Diagnosis and Reference Laboratory (BAI- ADDRL) after testing blood samples taken from ducks.
The Tacurong city hall immediately isolated and started culling chickens and ducks in farms within a one-kilometer radius quarantine zone. – Rappler.com
Rommel Rebollido is a Mindanao-based journalist and an awardee of the Aries Rufo Journalism Fellowship