07/08/2005, 00.00
PHILIPPINES

First avian flu case detected

The virus has killed more than 50 people since the outbreak began. The World Health Organisation warns that "the more the virus spreads, the greater the chances it could combine with the human flu virus".

Manila (AsiaNews/Agencies) – So far the avian flu had spared the Philippines; no longer. Its first case was discovered in the village of Calumpit, in Bulcan province north of Manila.

"There's no cause for alarm," said Health Secretary Francisco Duque. But poultry sales have been banned in the entire, at least for a week.

It is not yet clear whether it is the H5N1 strain which has killed more than 50 people across Asia since 2003, but Secretary Duque said "samples have been sent to Australia to see whether the Philippines bird flu strain was the same as the one that had caused human fatalities elsewhere in the region".

Agricultural Secretary Arthur Yap said the cases were confined to a "small isolated farm".

"I can assure you there's no indication it's the H5N1," he said. "The situation is it's a low pathogen. It's not high. That's the only statement I can make."

The Philippines have a large poultry industry worth 150 billion pesos (US$ 2.72 billion) a year, employing 300,000 people.

The World Health Organisation has urged all governments affected by the virus to provide quick and clear information about any risk situations.

After being informed about the case in the Philippines, UN agency warned that "the more the virus spreads, the greater the chances it could combine with the human flu virus".

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New, asymptomatic bird flu cases
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