CITY OF SAN FERNANDO -- The Department of Agriculture (DA) is conducting a tracer study on how the Avian Influenza H5N6 virus was able to enter the country and infect fowls in farms in Pampanga and Nueva Ecija provinces.
The tracer study aims to identify the source of the virus and come up with measures to prevent its resurgence in the country.
It could be remembered that 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
The Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) had concluded the culling of the birds within the one-kilometer quarantine zones in the said farms.
The BAI report added that the infection started in a farm that hosted mix species of fowl. The ducks in the said farm began to die first followed by the quails which were raised nearby. Soon the deaths were also recorded with the chicken stocks.
The cause of the transmission is still inconclusive but BAI and DA officials have suspicions that the spread may have come from migratory birds or from smuggled poultry products.
Another possible angle is that farm workers may have hunted for wild migratory birds in the area for food and unintentionally introduced the virus into the farms. Smuggling of contaminated birds is also another possibility.
It was earlier confirmed that the influenza strain that hit poultry and other domestic fowls in San Luis, Pampanga was that of the H5N6 strain. The strain can be passed to humans who have direct contact with infected fowl. However, the risk of infection is very low according to officials of the Department of Health.