By: ELLALYN DE VERA-RUIZ
The Department of Agriculture (DA) has maintained that poultry products remain safe to consume despite the confirmation of the presence of human transmissible bird flu strain in Pampanga and Nueva Ecija.
National avian influenza focal person Arlene Vytiaco of the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) said H5N6 bird flu strain can be transmitted to humans but pointed out that the transmission rate is “very, very low.”
“Based on the test results from the Australian Animal Health Laboratory, the samples tested positive for the N6 subtype of avian influenza virus,” said Vytiaco.
Last week, two farm workers were monitored for showing signs of flu but later on tested negative of the bird flu virus.
“There is mortality. But since 2013, when this kind of strain was discovered, just less than 20 deaths so far have been recorded worldwide,” added Vytiaco.
Vytiaco noted the presence of H5N6 in three Southeast Asian countries, namely Myanmar, Lao PDR and Vietnam. She also pointed out that Japan had cases of H5N6 in its poultry farms but so far had no record of human transmission.
“We make it a point that the culling team wear protective gear so they will not be infected by the virus,” assured Vytiaco.
DA Secretary Manny Piñol said there is no conclusive report yet on how the virus reached San Luis and spread to Jaen and San Isidro, but promised that the agency will come up with a more efficient way of monitoring the farms.
“We have to learn from our experiences and make sure that we will be able to improve the system,” said Piñol.
Piñol said President Rodrigo Duterte is scheduled to visit Pampanga next week. One of the activities during the visit is the partaking of balut, chicken barbecue and fried itik.