GENERAL SANTOS CITY -- Veterinary personnel in South Cotabato have expanded their animal disease monitoring and prevention program as it moves to maintain the province free from possible outbreaks.

Dr. Flora Bigot, acting head of the Provincial Veterinary Office (PVET), said Wednesday they have assigned additional personnel to augment their ongoing animal blood sampling activities in parts of the province.

She said they are targeting to cover all barangays within the province’s 10 towns and lone city for the disease monitoring.
Some 285 animal health workers have been trained and commissioned by PVET for the initiative, she said.

“This is to ensure that our animals are safe from diseases that could result to outbreaks and severe economic losses,” she said.

Bigot reiterated that the entire province has remained free from major animal diseases, especially the foot-and-mouth disease and avian influenza or bird flu.

Last month, the Department of Agriculture (DA) confirmed bird flu outbreaks in poultry farms in Pampanga and Nueva Ecija.

But these have been so far contained and no new cases have been reported in the last three weeks.

As a result of the bird flu outbreak, DA’s Bureau of Animal Industry banned the movement of live poultry animals and meat from Luzon to Visayas and Mindanao but it has since been lifted.

With the lifting of the shipment ban, Bigot said they stepped up their monitoring activities in the province’s border areas.

The provincial government led the reactivation last month of the avian flu task forces down to the city and municipal levels to properly coordinate the disease prevention and monitoring activities.

Aside from these, Bigot said they have also intensified their animal deworming activities at the barangay level.

She said they have already utilized 22,000 doses of deworming drugs and have served some 500 farmers.

The official said they will launch later this month the second round of its vitamin supplementation and castration program.

"This is aimed to prevent infections like the New Castle Disease and hemorrhagic septicemia," she added.(AC/PNA)