Eagle Center strengthens measures vs bird flu

Photo courtesy of Philippine Eagle Center
Photo courtesy of Philippine Eagle Center

THE Philippine Eagle Center (PEC) has intensified its safeguard measures in anticipation of a possible lockdown in case the Avian Influenza H5N1 (bird flu) is detected in Davao City.

The PEC, on Monday, April 11, closed the center to conduct a simulation activity to prepare its personnel for a possible lockdown.

"This allows us to respond at a moment's notice as soon as there is a detected case of Avian Flu in Davao City," PEC wrote on its Facebook post.

The center said the activity may affect its operation, but they cannot compromise the safety of the country's "national bird, endemic raptors, and other animals housed" at PEC.

PEC Communications Officer Nathaniele Nuelan told SunStar Davao on Monday afternoon, April 11, that the drill participants included the bird keepers, food stock technicians, and maintenance personnel to prepare them to effectively handle the situation.

"Mawawalan kami ng sort of generating income kasi lumalakas 'yung entry ng (We would sort of lose our generating income considering the entry of) tourists and visitors, but we want to prioritize the survival of our population here. We need to resort to these kinds of measures," Nuelan said.

He said PEC already had a short lockdown last year when the first case of bird flu in the country was detected in Nueva Ecija.

Since then, he said the center already shifted its food supply to feed among eagles from poultries to rats, rabbits, and occasionally goats.

Nuelan said they had also made adjustments on the bird's cages.

He also said that the birds will no longer be taken out of their cages and has limited the interaction of eagles among its keepers and visitors.

The PEC official said they have already coordinated with the Davao City Government, through the City Veterinarian’s Office (CVO), and the Bureau of Animal Industry, which are alarmed with the threat the bird flu might pose to the critically endangered eagle.

On Monday, April 4, 2022, the municipality of Magsaysay, Davao del Sur announced that it has detected its first bird flu case in Barangay San Isidro. This is the first case of bird flu in the region.

PEF, in an earlier statement, said the detection of bird flu in Davao Region is a major threat to the Philippine Eagle as the Type A H5N1 avian influenza is highly contagious and lethal to birds, including the said Philippine Eagle.

Department of Agriculture-Davao Region Avian Flu focal person Armie Capuyan said in a virtual presser on Monday that aside from wild birds, other animals and even humans can possibly contract the virus.

“Possible na maapektuhan ng Avian Influenza na ito ang ating mga wild birds at domestic species. Hindi lang 'yung tao (There is a possibility that our wild birds and domestic species might be infected with the Avian Influenza. Not just humans), but other animals could also be affected,” Capuyan said during the One Davao on Covid-19 presser.

CVO head Dr. Cerelyn Pinili said in a recent radio interview that the city remains "bird flu free," but said it will further intensify its screening on the entry of poultries following the ongoing outbreak of the avian flu in some parts of the country.

She said the city has set up veterinary checkpoints in various city borders in Lasang, Calinan, Marilog, and Sirawan in Toril.

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