The Department of Agriculture (DA) has confirmed that the bird flu that hit parts of the country is that of the H5N6 strain – that is the strain where the virus can be transmitted to humans.
Test samples of the strain was sent by the DA to Australia, laboratory results confirmed that indeed it is the H5N6 strain.
The DA officials said, the strain is slow to spread and causes few deaths.
|The Department of Agriculture has confirmed that the bird flu strain that hit the country is that of the H5N6, and not the far more deadlier H5N1 strain. (photo credit to owner)|
"The rate of transmission is very, very low," Arlene Vytiaco, who heads animal disease control in the Bureau of Animal Industry, said in a press briefing.
Vutiaco explained that countries like Japan and Myamnar have been affected by H5N6 but have reported no humans infected by the avian influenza.
"The mortality rate is also low," Vytiaco said. Since H5N6 started in 2014, there have only been 20 deaths reported worldwide.
The Department of Health has been very vigilant in conducting regular check-ups on farmers and workers in areas hit by the bird flu outbreak.
Vytiaco said no new patients have been admitted since two farm workers reported flu-like symptoms last week but eventually tested negative for the avian influenza.
The government authorities wanted to check what was the N strain, local results showed it was the N6 and not the N1- which is far more serious and deadlier N1. They deemed it necessary to send some test samples to Australia to double check if it was the N6 strain, since Australia has its own tests kits which the Philippines does not have, said Dr. Arlene Vytiaco, the one who is responsible overseeing the disease control for the Bureau of Animal Industry. *
The very first bird flu reported in the country was reported earlier this month, several farms in San Luis, Pampanga was found to have contracted the bird flu virus.
There were statements before by the Department of Agriculture that the virus has been present in the country since April, but was only reported this month after 37,000 birds had died. DA added the strain of avian flu present in these birds was not transmissible to humans.
The DA as a precautionary measure, imposed a ban on the shipment of poultry and poultry products from Luzon to other parts of the country on August 13 but it was lifted on August 22.
"Today, on the recommendation of the biosecurity team headed by Dr. Arlene Vytiaco and Dr. Enrico Garzon and, of course, with the conformity of the National Meat Inspection Service, I will be signing after this press conference an administrative order lifting the ban on the shipment of poultry and poultry products from Luzon to other parts of the country on certain conditions," said Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol in a press briefing.
The Secretary said the products must not come from the 7-kilometer quarantine radius in San Luis, Pampanga, and the towns of Jaen and San Isidro in Nueva Ecija.
Shipments must be validated by quarantine officers, and must carry certification that they came from accredited and inspected farms in Luzon. The products must also carry the seal of the quarantine officers.
Fresh eggs, chicks, and chicken meat are allowed, as well as balut eggs that are cooked before shipment.
"All other products not mentioned but coming from accredited farms inspected by our quarantine officers and certified to be free from any diseases will be allowed," Piñol said.
Report from CNNPhils