- The Philippines has discovered its first cases of bird
flu with infected ducks being found in a town north of the capital, Manila.
The trading of poultry has been banned for a week around the town of Calumpit
in Bulcan province.
- It is not yet clear if it is the H5N1 strain which has
killed more than 50 people across Asia since 2003.
- "There's no cause for alarm," said Health Secretary
Francisco Duque, adding tests were being carried out.
- He said samples had been sent to Australia to see whether
the Philippine bird flu strain was the same as that which caused human
fatalities elsewhere in the region.
- Risk 'almost nil'
- Agricultural Secretary Arthur Yap said early indications
were that the strain was not deadly to humans.
- "There is no sign of transmission and no ducks have
died," he said.
- Bird flu
- "It is a low-risk flu strain found in three healthy
ducks and the risk to human health is almost nil."
- Mr Yap said the cases were confined to a "small
isolated farm". A 3km exclusion zone has been imposed on the affected
- "We are very lucky we caught it in a very early
stage and we are confident that we can contain it," Mr Yap said, adding
that the virus had been detected during routine testing.
- All birds on the affected farm are to be culled as a
- Pandemic fears
- Mr Yap and other officials ate fried chicken at the press
conference to demonstrate their message that chicken and duck remain safe
- The Philippines has a large poultry industry, employing
300,000 people and worth 150bn peso ($2.72bn) a year.
- It is the only Asian country with large-scale poultry
farming which has not yet been affected by the bird flu virus.
- Fears about the H5N1 virus have led to the slaughter
of millions of chickens and ducks across Asia in the last 18 months.
- The WHO is alarmed that the more the virus spreads, the
greater the chances it could combine with the human flu virus and trigger
a flu pandemic.