Surigao City – The Department of Agriculture (DA) Caraga (Region 13) office dismissed rumors about Avian influenza or commonly known as bird-flu after several ducks died at a farm in Butuan City.
DA assured the public that the region has remained free, so far, of the Asian avian virus, but at the same time the government is on heightened alert considering the risk from birds migrating through the archipelago.
“The incident on August 19, when 15 domesticated ducks were found dead in one of the barangays in Butuan City, has already been investigated. Personnel from the DA’s Regional Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory headed by Chief Veterinarian Esther B. Cardeno quickly responded and went to the area and conducted thorough investigation and advised the owner on what to do to prevent further deaths of their ducks,” said Emmylou T. Presilda, information officer of DA-Region 13.
Presilda said the assessment of the team was that it is not the feared bird-flu that killed the ducks.
“The cause of death of animals was apparently the lack of oxygen considering how congested the fowl were being kept. What’s more, there were signs of insufficient water supply. According to the owner, the ducks were confined only in their area and have not had any contact with other feathered animals outside their backyard,” said Presilda.
Cardeno, who headed the investigating team, observed that the signs of death was far different from death due to bird flu, but, still, further test will be conducted by DA to ascertain the exact cause of death.
Luzviminda Enciso, the owner of the small duck farm, pointed out that she was baffled as to how her ducks died all at the same time, finding them lifeless early Saturday morning where they were kept in Purok 3A, barangay Holy Redeemer, Butuan City.
“DA-13 asks the public to remain calm but vigilant, and report any unusual death of feathered animals such as poultry and ducks. We also request Caraganons to refrain from spreading false and unverified information so as not to create panic. Kindly contact the nearest Municipal or City Agriculture Office or the DA at telephone numbers 342-4092 for assistance,” said the regional information officer of the DA-13.
Romy Torralba, information office of the Department of Health Caraga Region stated that as, of the moment there is no validated and confirmed report of the bird flu in the region.
“Rest assured, though, that our epidemiologist are prepared to assist the DA if indeed several incidents need to be validated. The tissue samples for these will immediately be sent to the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine in Manila,” said Torralba.
Ducks are considered “Trojan Horses” of H5N1 avian influenza because they do not die as immediately as other domesticated poultry, such as chicken. Some ducks that are naturally resistant can shed and spread the virus from both the respiratory and intestinal tracts while showing few or no disease signs, scientific reports have indicated.