THE Department of Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) gave a stern warning to hunters against catching wild birds in order to prevent the spread of H5N6 avian influenza commonly known as bird flu.
DENR’s warning comes as the region is undergoing enhanced community quarantine covering the entire Luzon.
Deputy director for technical services of DENR regional office Arthur Salazar said that wetlands of Central Luzon serve as a major stop for many migratory birds making their way northward around this time of the year.
“It comes as no surprise for people, especially ones living near these wetlands or even rice paddies to encounter different wild birds close to their homes,” he said.
According to Minerva Martinez, chief of the Conservation and Development Division of DENR, the detection of avian influenza in Nueva Ecija last month means that we need to be especially careful in handling birds, as bird flu can be transmitted by birds to humans.
Reports show that the last outbreak of avian influenza in the Philippines was in 2017 and no cases of bird-to-human transmission was recorded at the time.
The DENR appealed to the public to avoid hunting bird species for trade, consumption or to keep as pets to prevent the spread of bird flu.
The hunting of wildlife, including wild birds, is illegal and is punishable under Republic Act 9147 or “The Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act”. The DENR advised the public to avoid handling wild birds, especially those which seem sick or ones that are already dead.
Moreover, should any person encounter wild birds they are advised to avoid contact or to facilitate the bird’s release to prevent it from infecting domestic birds.
The World Health Organization (WHO) reported that whenever avian influenza viruses are circulating in poultry, there is a risk for sporadic infection and small clusters of human cases due to exposure to infected poultry or contaminated environments.