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H5 Bird Flu Near Migratory Bird Sanctuary in Philippines

Recombinomics Commentary

July 9, 2005

>> There was an attempt to keep details of the meeting secret.  Molina later said that there was no news blackout on the country's first case of bird flu.  "We just don't want to scare local residents," he said.

Molina, however, asked journalists not to go to Calumpit and he refused to disclose the exact location where the infection was detected.

Local officials, however, were more outspoken and told reporters that the infection was detected in a small backyard duck farm in Barangay Puno.

The officials told The Times that the infection was detected as early as July 1.

Mayor Abrosio Cruz of Guiguinto, president of the Bulacan chapter of the League of Municipalities of the Philippines, called on communities around the Candaba Swamp to avoid contact with migratory birds frequenting the area.  These birds are thought to be the source of the bird-flu virus that infected the ducks in Calumpit.

Candaba Swamp is classified as a wildlife sanctuary, which is frequented by migratory birds from South East Asia. <<

The above comments suggest that the bird flu situation in the Philippines is being downplayed by politicians, as the likelihood of H5N1 infections increase.  Migratory birds from southeast Asia are more likely to be carrying H5N1 than other H5 sero-types.  In the past, H5 with other sero-types was more common in migratory birds.  However H5N1 has become endemic to Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, and Indonesia, so now most H5 circulating in southeast Asia is H5N1.

In migratory birds and domestic waterfowl like ducks and geese the H5N1 infection is usually asymptomatic. A survey of ducks in the 11 provinces in the Mekong Delta showed that 71% were H5N1 positive.

Since the backyard farm near Manila in the Philippines is near a swamp frequented by migratory birds from southeast Asia, it is likely that the ducks were infected with H5N1.

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