CITY OF SAN FERNANDO -- The Avian Flu virus that killed hundreds of birds in six farms in San Luis Pampanga has been identified as Influenza A H5N6, a virus that is transmittable to humans but far less deadly than H5N1.
This was based on the results from the Australian Animal Health Laboratory which stated that the A(H5) strain in Pampanga tested positive for N6.
The Department of Agriculture (DA)said that the H5N6 has a very low transmission rate on humans.
The H5N6 virus has killed some 20 people since 2014 but these are mostly from China. But the people who died from this strain were directly exposed since they were working in live bird markets, according to the DA officials.
"The strain tested positive for H5N6 that could be transmitted to humans, but the rate of mortality and transmission is very, very low," Dr. Arlene Vytiaco of the Bureau of Animal Industry.
Some 37,000 birds have died from avian influenza subtype H5 in what has been declared as the first bird flu outbreak in the country.
The deaths were recorded in six farms in rural San Luis town. Infections were also reported among fowls in two towns of Nueva Ecija. More than 500,000 birds have been culled in quarantine operations in Nueva Ecija and Pampanga.
Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Pinol said " the fact that none of the farm workers in San Luis Pampanga got sick is an assurance that it is not serious."
It is not yet clear how the virus was able to enter the country. Separate tests are expected to be conducted on the fowls that died from Nueva Ecija.
The one-kilometer quarantine and seven-kilometer controlled zones are still in effect in San Luis and other areas as the DA is still conducting quarantine operations to clean the farms affected.
While the ban on the sale of poultry products from Luzon to other parts of the country has been lifted, products within the quarantine and controlled zones are still not allowed to be sold or transported outside the areas identified by the restriction orders.