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Philippines warns against killing of migratory birds amid avian flu outbreak

MANILA, Aug 13 (Reuters) - The Philippines on Sunday warned
citizens not to kill or poach migratory birds that usually fly
in from China, the possible source of a virus that triggered the
Southeast Asian nation's first outbreak of avian flu, to avoid
worsening the situation.

There has been no case of human transmission but the virus
prompted a cull of 200,000 fowl last week after it was detected
on a farm in the province of Pampanga, north of the capital
Manila, and spread to five neighbouring farms.

Migratory birds or smuggled ducks from China may have
brought in the virus, Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol has
said.

The bird migration season in the Philippines usually starts
around September, with the birds returning to their breeding
grounds the following March, Mundita Lim, director of the
Biodiversity Management Bureau (BMB), said in an advisory.

"The culling, poisoning or chasing of migratory birds is
strongly discouraged as they have proven ineffective and
counterproductive," she added.

Sick or dead wild birds should immediately be reported to
the Department of Agriculture to allow checks for the virus, Lim
said, urging breeders in areas frequented by migratory birds to
guard their flocks against contact with them.

Early tests of the virus in the avian flu outbreak ruled out
the highly pathogenic H5N1 strain, but Philippine officials have
sought further testing by an Australian animal health laboratory
that is part of a global network combating the disease.

The Philippines is monitoring the quality and prices of
poultry products in its markets, but believes farm authorities
have managed to isolate and contain the virus, the presidential
palace said in a statement.

Roy Cimatu, the secretary of environment and natural
resources, said his department would step up surveillance
against efforts to smuggle wild birds by sea and air.
(Reporting by Enrico dela Cruz; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

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