by Staff Writers
Manila (AFP) Jan 21, 2014
The Philippines said Tuesday it has banned imports of poultry and related products from China after it confirmed an outbreak of the HN52 strain of bird flu in the northern province of Hebei.
The embargo issued by Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala, covers all domestic and wild birds as well as eggs and even semen from poultry originating in China.
The agriculture ministry decided to enforce a ban after receiving an official report from the China Animal Disease Control Center, Veterinary Bureau in December.
The report confirmed an outbreak of the H5N2 strain of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza(HPAI) virus in poultry in three villages in Hebei, China, the department said.
More than one hundred thousand birds were culled in the area as a precautionary measure, local reports said.
The ban is temporary but no date has been given for it to be lifted.
In 2013 China had 144 cases, including 46 deaths, from the H7N9-strain of avian influenza, according to figures from China's National Health and Family Planning Commission.
So far this year there have been at least six bird flu deaths in mainland China, according to media reports.
Vietnam reports first bird flu death in nine months
A 52-year-old man from southern Binh Phuoc province died Saturday after receiving treatment in Ho Chi Minh City, the ministry said in a statement issued late Monday.
"His sample... tested positive to the H5N1 virus," the statement said.
It was Vietnam's first fatality from the virus since a four-year-old child died in April 2013.
Demand for poultry in Vietnam is expected to surge over coming days as families gear up to celebrate the lunar new year festival Tet next week.
Strains of the H5, H7 and H9 avian influenza subtypes have caused human infections, primarily following direct contact with infected poultry.
But experts fear it could mutate into a form easily transmissible between humans, with the potential to trigger a pandemic.
The H5N1 virus has caused 649 confirmed flu cases in humans since it re-emerged in 2003, of whom 385 died, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
Vietnam has recorded one of the highest fatality rates from bird flu in Southeast Asia, with the disease claiming 63 lives so far, WHO said.
Neighbouring Cambodia recorded 13 deaths from the virus last year, as it battled its deadliest outbreak since 2003.
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