Reactivation of GenSan’s anti-bird flu task force set

GENERAL SANTOS CITY — The city government is set to reactivate its special task force against avian influenza or bird flu as it moves to maintain the entire area free from the viral disease.

Dr. Antonio Marin, chief of the City Veterinarian’s Office (CVO), said preparations are underway for the reactivation of the General Santos City Avian Influenza Task Force (GSCAITF) in coordination with the Department of Agriculture (DA) in Region 12.

He said City Mayor Ronnel Rivera has scheduled a meeting with concerned stakeholders on Sept. 7 for the revival of the task force.

The official said the GSCAITF will be headed by the mayor and composed of officials and representatives from the CVO, DA, City Agriculture Office, City Health Office, city police, Army-led Joint Task Force GenSan and the city poultry raisers association.

“We are initially planning to hold a series of trainings for task force members and the city’s quick response team (QRT),” he said.

Marin said the trainings will include mechanisms on monitoring and surveillance activities, and the proper use of prescribed personal protective equipment or PPE.

He said QRT and GSCAITF members will utilize the PPEs in taking blood samples from chickens and birds that could be infected by the disease.

The task force and QRT are tasked to respond and handle cases of possible bird flu outbreaks within the city’s 26 barangays.

The team will spearhead the implementation of quarantine measures, collection of samples and proper testing for suspected cases.

“The collected blood samples would be sent to the DA laboratory in (Barangay) Lagao for confirmatory tests,” Marin said.

He was referring to DA-12’s Regional Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory here.

As of Tuesday, the official said the city remains free from bird flu, which could potentially affect humans, and measures are being undertaken to prevent the entry of the disease in the area.

DA-12’s Veterinary Quarantine Services has been closely monitoring the city airport, Makar port and the public transport terminals for the possible shipment or movement of live fowl and poultry products from bird flu affected areas in Luzon.

The agency earlier quarantined a shipment of fighting cocks that entered the city through a commercial flight from Manila.

CVO personnel had monitored suspicious deaths among chickens in parts of the city but were eventually ruled to be cases of the Newcastle disease. (MindaNews)