MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang Wednesday assured the nation that the Philippine government is prepared against the bird flu virus’ attack on the agriculture sector, following the warning of the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (UN–FAO) on the possible attack of the deadly virus in Asia.
Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said the government is ensuring that the country will continue to be bird flu-free.
“Lagi naman nagbabantay ang ating Department of Agriculture (DA) lalo na napakamasigasig ni Secretary Prosy Alcala tungkol sa mga bagay na pumasailalim sa kanyang departamento [The DA is always on guard, especially with Sec. Prosy Alcala, who is keen on issues under his department],” Valte said.
“Naihayag naman ng FAO na baka meron nga daw pumasok, binabantayan na yung mga pagpasok nitong mga produktong ito sa ating bansa [The FAO has warned of the bird flu virus and we are on guard against the entry of products which may contain the virus],” she said.
The UN–FAO has urged governments to heighten preparedness and surveillance amid signs that a mutant strain of the deadly bird flu virus is spreading in Asia.
According to the UN agency, areas recently affected by the virus were found in Israel and the Palestinian territories, Bulgaria, Romania, Nepal, and Mongolia. The FAO has also expressed concern on virus’ resistance against vaccines in China and Vietnam, noting that it poses a direct threat to Cambodia, Thailand, and Malaysia as well as Korea and Japan.
Bird flu or avian influenza, has adversely affected at least 63 countries starting in 2003. About 400-million chickens had been culled, leading to economic losses of over $20 billion to the world’s poultry sector. There had been about 565 people infected all over the world, 331 of whom had died.
The latest death occurred earlier this month in Cambodia, which has registered eight cases of fatal human infections this year.
Avian Influenza (AI), commonly known as "bird flu," is an infectious disease in chickens, ducks, and other birds caused by different subtypes of the Influenza A virus.
AI can be transmitted to humans if persons live in close contact with birds through infected aerosols, discharges, and surfaces, feces; flapping of wings could hasten AI transmission; plucking and preparing of diseased birds; playing with poultry, and consumption of duck's blood or possibly undercooked poultry.