July 15, 2011

Philippine Govt Warns Against Geckos Treatments

The Philippines government warned on Friday that using geckos to treat AIDS and impotence could put patients at risk.

Environmental officials expressed alarm about the growing trade in the wall-climbing lizards in the Philippines.  An 11-ounce gecko reportedly sells for at least $1,160.

Geckos are reportedly exported to Malaysia, China and South Korea to be used as aphrodisiacs and as traditional medicine for asthma, AIDS, cancer, tuberculosis and impotence.

A health department statement said their use as medical treatments has no scientific basis and could be dangerous because patients might not seek proper treatment for their diseases.

"This is likely to aggravate their overall health and put them at greater risk," it added.

The statement said treatments for asthma are easily available and affordable, while there are antiviral drugs to control the progress of HIV.

Wildlife official Mundita Lim said her office asked law enforcers to look into the possibility that scammers may be trying to get involved in the trade because of the exorbitant prices being quoted online by buyers demanding geckos weighing at least 14 ounces.

She said geckos in the wild grow up to 7 ounces, and those in captivity grow only up to 10 ounces.

According to Lim, geckos are dried and pulverize to use as medicine, and there are anecdotal accounts of the saliva or internal organs being collected.

Environment Secretary Ramon Paje warned that collecting and trading geckos without permit can be punishable by up to four years in jail and a fine of $6,900.

He said a health population of geckos is needed to regulate pests and maintain the fragile ecosystem.