Migratory birds not likely source of flu, ex-mayor says
CITY OF SAN FERNANDO — Migratory birds, particularly those who escape the harsh Siberian winter, could not have brought the avian flu into the country, according to a former Pampanga town mayor who had converted his farm into a bird sanctuary.
“We had no migratory birds in Candaba [town] in the period when many pugo (quails) in San Luis died,” former Candaba Mayor Jerry Pelayo told the Inquirer on Saturday.
Pelayo, who called from China where he was on a business trip, referred to the incident in July when 15,000 quails died in San Luis town near Candaba.
San Luis is part of the Candaba swamp that spans 33,000 hectares in the provinces of Bulacan, Nueva Ecija and Pampanga.
Pelayo disputed one of Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol’s theories that migratory birds carried the H5 strain of the avian flu virus and infected local birds. He also said contaminated Peking ducks smuggled into the country could have also been another source of the virus.
The source of the virus is “still under investigation,” said Dr. Ronnie Domingo, veterinary epidemiologist at the Bureau of Animal Industry.
“I wish the government had consulted a lot of experts and scientists before confirming that there indeed was bird flu in Pampanga,” Pelayo said. “The Philippines has been a bird flu-free country for a long time and there are reasons for this. The bird flu virus will not survive in temperatures above 28 degrees [Celsius] as mentioned by a lot of experts.”
“It would be a big blow to the Philippines as we export our produce since we have been bird flu-free for a long time, and to our local producers especially in Pampanga. I really hope that we have a cautious approach to this issue,” he said.
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