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GENERAL SANTOS, Philippines – The provincial government of South Cotabato has prohibited the transportation of grazing ducks (mallards) into the province to prevent the potential spread of Avian Influenza or bird flu (H5N1) from infected areas.
The Provincial Veterinary Office (PVet) has implemented stricter measures for transporting live chickens, fighting cocks, their by-products, and even their droppings used as fertilizers, following the lifting of the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions on cock derbies and smaller village cockfights.
Provincial veterinarian chief Flora Bigot said on Wednesday, May 10, they had to ban duck movement into the province as the animals are potential carriers of the bird flu virus, which poses a threat to domestic fowl.
Infected ducks do not exhibit visible signs of infection, making it a cause for concern, Dr. Bigot said.
She said the measure had to be taken because South Cotabato’s duck industry, a significant producer in the country alongside Sultan Kudarat and Cotabato provinces, needs to be protected.
South Cotabato was ranked the fourth major duck producer, with the neighboring provinces of Sultan Kudarat and Cotabato also in the Top 10, based on data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA).
General Santos City and South Cotabato, meanwhile, produce an average of 20 million dressed chickens monthly.
The provincial government also mandated game fowl owners to submit the animals for bird flu examination when transporting them in South Cotabato.
In a memorandum, South Cotabato Governor Reynaldo Tamayo Jr. ordered poultry and fighting cock owners to secure a letter of acceptance from the capitol’s veterinary office and comply with documentary and laboratory requirements first before they could move around the province with the animals.
Tamayo also ordered intensified surveillance and monitoring of suspected avian influenza cases, and more inspections and evaluations in the villages given South Cotabato’s proximity to the bird sanctuary in Barangay Baras, Tacurong City.
The Tacurong sanctuary, within a wetland, houses migratory birds such as herons and wild ducks.
South Cotabato, which was declared avian influenza-free on March 10, shares boundaries with Tacurong City, specifically the villages of Baras and Kalandagan, which were closely monitored last year when avian influenza was detected. – Rappler.com