Philippines detects bird flu in duck, quail farms

Municipal veterinary authorities have promptly culled all birds in affected quail and duck farms. PHOTO: UNSPLASH

MANILA (REUTERS) - The Philippines' agriculture department said on Tuesday (Feb 22) it had recently detected outbreaks of avian influenza in some duck and quail farms near the capital, after getting rid of the disease more than a year ago.

The latest cases involved the H5N1 strain, not the H5N6 strain found during outbreaks in recent years, although both are classified as highly pathogenic.

In January 2021, the department announced the South-east Asian country was free of the H5N6 virus, citing a declaration by the World Organisation for Animal Health.

The first cases of H5N1 infection were found last month in the provinces of Bulacan and Pampanga, home to some poultry businesses.

Additional cases were recorded early this month, the department said in a statement.

However, the strain has not yet been found in chickens and turkeys, according to Mr Reildrin Morales, director of the department's Bureau of Animal Industry.

Mr Morales said municipal veterinary authorities had promptly culled all birds in affected quail and duck farms.

Quarantine zones have been established around infected farms to prevent the virus spread and risk of transmission to humans, he said.

Agriculture Secretary William Dar, however, assured the public that the risk for humans to catch the H5N1 virus was "very low".

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