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SunStar: Rise in animal liver fluke cases alarms South Cotabato

September 8, 2007 9:42am

GENERAL SANTOS CITY -- Veterinary officials in South Cotabato are studying the possibility of declaring an outbreak of Fasciolosis or liver fluke disease in the province due to the sudden increase of positive cases among large livestock in the area during the last several weeks.

Dr. Lorna Lamorena, provincial veterinarian, said laboratory tests on samples recently taken from cows, carabaos, and horses in the province's 10 towns and lone city showed the level of infection at 89.5 percent.

"This is already very alarming because at that rate we can already consider that there is an outbreak of Fasciolosis," she told reporters.

Fasciolosis is a worm infestation caused by a trematode, Fasciola hepatica (or F. gigantica) -- a parasite that settles in the biliary ducts of ruminants, horses, and even humans, a report from the Department of Science and Technology website noted.

It said clinical signs of this disease in cattle are anemia or deficiency in red blood cells and enteritis or inflammation of the small intestine resulting, eventually in loss of weight, muscle atrophy, fatigue, weakness and significant loss of appetite. The disease may be fatal if it remained untreated.

Dr. Lamorena blamed the increase in cases of Fasciolosis to the erratic weather condition being experienced by the area.

She said the sudden changes of the weather from dry to wet condition are considered as among the risk factors that favor the spread of the disease.

Lamorena said they need to immediately treat the infected animals since they could also suffer from complications with Surra and Hemorrhagic Septicemia diseases.

Surra, a disease caused by a protozoan parasite that attacks farm animals in times of drought, triggers deadly ailments like anemia, meningitis, and glaucoma while hemorrhagic septicemia is a bacterial disease that preys on goats, cows, and carabaos.

"Once an animal is infected by Fasciolosis, there is a high probability that they could also get secondary infections either from Surra or Hemorrhagic Septicemia," she said.

Last month, Lamorena said they monitored significant cases of Surra among farm animals in Surallah town.

She said that based on results of their laboratory tests, all barangays of the town were already affected by the disease.

Lamorena said they need to first treat the animals infected with Fasciolosis since treatments for Surra and Hemorrhagic Septicemia would be useless if the liver fluke remains in the system of the infected animals.

"We need to intervene immediately to control the situation but we lack the needed funds and other resources so we can directly address the problem. So far, our buffer stocks are already at the critical level," she said.

Last Thursday, Lamorena said they already sent a request to the office of South Cotabato Governor Daisy Avance-Fuentes for an augmentation of their funds so they can immediately purchase the veterinary supplies and drugs needed for the treatment of the infected animals.

She said they are also studying the possibility of requesting the affected areas and Provincial Disaster Coordinating Council to seek declaration of a state of calamity to allow the use of calamity funds to address the problem.

Under the Local Government Act of 1991, local government units may utilize their calamity funds, which comprise five percent of their annual budgets, upon declaring a state of calamity. - Sun Star
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