Philippines: Cardinal calls for week of prayer against bird flu

 Cardinal Ricardo Cardinal Vidal of the Philippines, is expected to issue a circular calling for prayers next week to protect the public against the deadly bird flu virus. from the disease. "I am going to issue a statement on bird flu and urge the people to pray so that we will be free from bird flu," Archbishop Vidal of Cebu archdiocese said. He said the circular would also call for mandatory prayer for all Catholics after Mass. This is the third time Vidal has declared a state of prayer. The first was two years ago when the severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) swept through Asia and the second was last August amidst the threat of dengue fever. The Cardinal urged people to pray so that they will be free from diseases like dengue fever. "Whenever there are occasions like that, we ask the people to pray," he said. Although not a single case of bird flu has been flu has been reported in the Philippines, government officials have taken steps against the deadly disease, sources said. It has also passed a resolution placing the country under a state of preparedness. Areas in the states frequented by migratory birds are now being monitored and veterinary officers have taken blood samples of chicken and other migratory birds. Cebu city veterinarian Alice Uttlang said there is a non-pathogenic type of bird flu that is already in the country. However, she said this type of bird flu does not carry the deadly H5NI and cannot even kill inflicted fowls.