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Manila says bird flu case may not be deadly strain

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

PHILIPPINES - The Philippines said on Friday initial findings showed that ducks found to have bird flu in a remote town north of Manila may not be carrying the deadly strain of the virus.

Manila says bird flu case may not be deadly strain - PHILIPPINES - The Philippines said on Friday initial findings showed that ducks found to have bird flu in a remote town north of Manila may not be carrying the deadly strain of the virus.

Outgoing Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap told reporters the ducks were suspected of having the H5N3 strain, although an Australian laboratory had yet to release final results of blood tests on the infected ducks.

"The disease is not yet here. There is no mortality," Yap said. "It's like you have HIV but you don't have AIDS."

The deadly strain of the avian influenza virus -- H5N1 -- has killed 40 people in Vietnam, 12 in Thailand and four in Cambodia. Indonesia is investigating if three people who died there succumbed to the virus. The World Health Organisation has warned the H5N1 strain could kill millions of humans if it mutates and is passed from person to person.

More than 140 million chickens have been killed in the region to try to halt the spread of bird flu, causing millions of dollars in losses.

Philippine health authorities have kept 230 ducks on the affected farm and set up a quarantine zone in the town of Calumpit in Bulacan province.

Yap said if the Australian findings confirmed the initial data on the virus, authorities would monitor the infected ducks until Sunday and then lift the quarantine if none died.

The government halted trading and sale of poultry for a week within the quarantine area, while exporters voluntarily stopped sale of poultry products to Japan.

The poultry industry in the Philippines is worth about 150 billion pesos ($2.7 billion) and employs 300,000 people.

The infected ducks were found to have a low strain of avian influenza on Friday after the owner applied to export "balut", a Filipino delicacy of unhatched duck embryos.

The ducks came from a farm located on the periphery of the Candaba swamp, a bird sanctuary frequented by migratory birds.

Scientists have said the spread of avian flu among migrating geese and other birds at a wildlife refuge in China meant the birds could carry the devastating virus out of Asia.

This made bird flu even more of a global threat, they said in reports published jointly by the journals Science and Nature last week. ($1 = 55.8 pesos)

Source: Reuters - 15th July 2005

5m Editor