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First case of bird flu hits Philippines

by 5m Editor
11 July 2005, at 12:00am

PHILIPPINES - The Philippines has suffered its first case of bird flu after ducks were found to be infected in a town north of Manila, prompting the country to immediately halt poultry exports to Japan, government officials said on Friday.

First case of bird flu hits Philippines - PHILIPPINES - The Philippines has suffered its first case of bird flu after ducks were found to be infected in a town north of Manila, prompting the country to immediately halt poultry exports to Japan, government officials said on Friday.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque said samples have been sent to Australia to determine whether the strain of avian influenza was the same as the one that has killed dozens of people elsewhere in Asia.

"There's no cause for alarm," Duque said in a television interview. "We're still investigating the case."

The government expects to receive results of the tests on the infected strain in a week.

A quarantine zone has been set up around the town of Calumpit in Bulacan province to halt the trading and sale of poultry for a week, in addition to the immediate slaughter of the affected flocks, government officials said.

The H5N1 strain of the avian influenza virus has killed 54 people of the 154 infected in Asia so far. More than 140 million chickens have been killed in the region to halt bird flu, causing millions of dollars in losses.

Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap said halting exports to Japan was a "voluntary" decision by the private sector.

The Philippines is not a big poultry exporter but it has been shipping cargoes to Japan, which banned supplies from Thailand where earlier bird flu outbreaks devastated the poultry industry.

The Department of Agriculture and the Department of Health jointly assured the people that it was safe to eat chicken and properly cooked duck meat.

"What we are carefully guarding against is the H5N1 strain, which is highly pathogenic and can be transmitted to other farm animals and even people," Yap said. "We can't see the symptoms of H5N1. The ducks are roaming around and are very healthy, and there are no signs of flu."

United Nations officials told a conference in Kuala Lumpur last week that bird flu was entrenched in Asia and it would take up to a decade to rid the region of the virus and declare humans, animals and meat safe from infection.

Source: Reuters - 8th July 2005

5m Editor