The Daily Manila Shimbun


Bird flu in Pampanga positive for strain that can be transmitted to human, DA says

August 24, 2017

A bird flu strain that hit some farms in Pampanga province was positive for H5N6, which could be transmitted to humans, the Department of Agriculture said on Thursday.

This was after the Australian Animal Health Laborarory sent to the Philippines the results of the tests it conducted from the samples from San Carlos and Sta. Rita villages in San Luis, Pampanga where the first bird flu outbreak was discovered early this month.

"Based from the results from the Australian Animal Health Laboratory, they have tested (the samples) for the N subtype and it was tested positive for N6," said Arlene Asteria Vytiaco, national avian influenza focal person of the Bureau of Animal Industry, a DA attached agency.

"It's a strain which could be transmitted to human," she said.

But she said the possibility it could cause sickness or even death is "very small."

She cited since N6 strain was discovered in 2013 or 2014, "less than 20 people were affected" and most of them are from China.

Even before the result from Australia was received by the DA on Tuesday night, Vytiaco said the Department of Health started checking the health condition of farm workers and others who were exposed to the fowls infected by the bird flu.

She noted those two individuals who manifested flu-like symptoms was tested negative of any infection from avian influenza.

Prior to sending samples to Australia, local authorities confirmed the avian influenza subtype H5 in six poultry farms in San Luis. The samples were negative for N1, a more deadly strain of bird flu.

While there was also outbreak of bird flu in  Jaen and San Isidro towns in Nueva Ecija, Vytiaco said there would be no need to send samples to Australia for testing because "most likely, they have similar strain."

Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Pinol said since San Luis has been cleared of bird flu, he invited President Rodrigo Duterte to a "boodle fight" on Monday in Pampanga.

He said Duterte who accepted the invitation will join poultry stakeholders in eating "balut," chicken barbecque and fried ducks to show that these poultry products are safe to consume.

Because of bird flu,  prices of poultry products significantly went down.

Vytiaco expressed hope that if there would be no other areas which would be affected by bird flu, the Philippines could be declared free of the disease towards the end of November this year after the disinfection, rest period, restocking and cleaning have been completed.

Some 600,000 fowls from Pampanga and about 184,000 from Nueva Ecija were culled to prevent the spread of bird flu to other parts of the country. Celerina Monte/DMS