BAI seeks more tests on bird flu

THE government is still waiting for the results of the samples it sent to the Australian Animal Health Laboratory to determine the N subtype of the bird flu virus that caused the death of some 37,000 chickens in San Luis, Pampanga, an official said Thursday.

But Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said it had been confirmed by four laboratory tests that the virus was negative for H5N1 or the type that could cross over to humans.

“In as far as AH5 is concerned this has been established. It is a relief that it tested negative for N1,” Piñol said.

The World Health Organization says the H5N1 is “a type of influenza virus that causes a highly infectious, severe respiratory disease in birds called avian influenza or bird flu.”

The UN agency says “almost all cases of H5N1 infection in people have been associated with close contact with infected live or dead birds, or H5N1-contaminated environments.”

Arlene Vytiaco, head of the Disease Control Section of the Bureau of Animal Industry, says that while the strain identified in Pampanga is not transferable to humans, there is still a need to identify the N subtype. 

“We already identified the H5 subtype, so we have to know the N subtype,” Vytiaco said. 

“We need to do this because in avian influenza, we should identify the H and N. Definitely, the one in Pampanga is already negative for N1.”

The bureau’s Maria Lagayan of BAI says that, so far, the government is still in the process of identifying the source of the virus.

“We are still investigating the source, although the possible suspect are wild birds or migrating birds,” Lagayan said. 

“There is still no confirmation, however. We are also still waiting for the results from Australia which will be released after two weeks.”

Two  poultry workers from San Luis were isolated earlier for showing flu-like symptoms.

But Department of Health spokesman Eric Tayag said both had tested negative for bird flu.

“We screened those who were from the affected farms and two had cough and fever. The good news is that both tested negative,” Tayag said. 

The government has put up a one-kilometer quarantine zone and a seven-kilometer control zone for surveillance. It has also established 12 quarantine checkpoints to check incoming and outgoing vehicles moving livestock and poultry.

A total of 36 farms have already been listed for culling about 600,000 fowl. The DA had earlier said that only 200,000 fowl would be culled in the six farms affected by the bird flu outbreak.

Topics: Government , Australian Animal Health Laboratory , Bird flu virus , San Luis , Pampanga , Secretary Emmanuel Piñol , BAI
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