Avian flu outbreak on Philippines

Avian flu outbreak on Philippines

The Philippines will cull 200,000 chickens, quails and ducks after confirming the country's first outbreak of bird flu, Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Pinol said on Friday. A farm in San Luis, Pampanga, just north of the Philippine capital Manila, reported an outbreak of the highly pathogenic AI strain H5 on 11 August, according to the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE).

The volume of birds to be culled was half of Pinol's initial estimate of 400,000, which he said was based on a preliminary evaluation and was later revised after inspection. The source of the outbreak remains inconclusive but tests are underway to establish how the Philippine poultry industry was hit with its first AI outbreak in history. 

The Department of Health (DOH) has stepped up surveillance of possible AI transmission to humans; it wants to find out if poultry farm workers have contracted the disease, as was the case in Hong Kong and India earlier this year, according to DOH. The Philippines is the latest country in Asia, Europe and Africa where the bird flu viruses have spread in recent months. Many strains only infect birds, but the H7N9 strain has led to human cases, including fatalities, in China.