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H5 Bird Flu Confirmed Near Manila Philippines

Recombinomics Commentary

July 8, 2005

>> Speaking at a press conference, Agricultural Secretary Arthur Yap said the strain of flu was identified as H5 and had been found in ducks on the farm.

"There are no symptoms, no mortality, no transmission (of the disease to humans) and no transmutation," of the disease, he said, stressing the birds had not yet developed the disease.

Yap said the outbreak was contained to a "small isolated farm" at Calumpit near Manila.

"It is a low-risk flu strain found in three healthy ducks and the risk to human health is almost nil," he said, adding: "We feel confident... that we can contain it."

Health Secretary Francisco Duque said the identification of the strain was still incomplete but stressed that the government "must do everything to ensure H5N1 does not enter the country."  <<

The comments above on confirmed H5 in the Philippines suggest it is H5N1.  LPAI H5N2 was detected in Japan this year, South Korea last year, and Taiwan the year before.  However, these outbreaks have been small and there has been little evidence to support significant spread.

However, H5N1 has become quite widespread especially in southeast Asia where there have been reported human fatalities in Vietnam and Cambodia this season as well as positive human antibodies in Indonesia.  In birds there have been significant outbreaks in Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Myanmar, and Indonesia and now migratory birds are reported to be infected with H5N1.

In Vietnam the H5N1 was been asymptomatic in ducks, so comments above of lack of symptoms in positive ducks suggest the infection is H5N1, which can be asymptomatic in ducks but lethal in humans.

The comment on "transmutation" is also confusing.  Mutation would be determined by sequencing of the whole genome.  Such sequencing would reveal if it virus was H5N1 or H5N2 or H5 something else because each H5 is quite distinctive.  I suspect there has been no sequencing and the comment on "transmutation is at the same level as serotyping based on symptoms.

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