DENR warning: Look, don’t touch wild birds
MANILA, Philippines—When it comes to wild birds, people should just look, not touch.
Environment Secretary Ramon Paje has appealed to the public not to catch, handle or keep wild birds to avoid the risk of contracting the avian influenza virus.
Paje also said traders should keep in mind that there is still an import ban on wild birds, their by-products and derivatives from bird flu-infected countries.
“Enjoy the sight of birds flying freely up in the sky or frolicking in seashores; do not touch them,” Paje said in a statement.
Paje’s reminders came after the United Nations-Food and Agriculture issued a report on the “possible major resurgence” of the Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (H5N1) with signs of a mutant strain of the H5N1 virus.
The UN-FAO report stated that the virus has been making inroads in Asia, and has unpredictable risks to human health and the poultry industry.
The Philippines remains bird flu-free.
“We don’t want to be alarmist, but it is better to err on the side of caution and keep the country and our people safe from the virus,” Paje said.
He also noted that a new mutant strain of the virus has been found in nearby China and Vietnam.
He said that based on medical reports, the bird flu virus could be transmitted through inhalation or direct contact with discharges or feces of infected birs.
This is why the public should be content with watching the feathered creatures from a safe distance, he added.
Paje also said farm and coastal area communities should stay away from dead birds and should immediately report cases of unusual die-offs of wild birds to the Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau, or to the nearest field office of the Environment Department, the Department of Agriculture or the Department of Health.
PAWB could be reached at telephone number (02) 9258953.
Paje also said the ban on importing wild birds from countries with bird flu cases has been in effect since January 2004.
The bird flu virus, detected in 2003, has infected 63 countries, including Bangladesh, Bulgaria, China, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Nepal, Mongolia, Romania and Vietnam.
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