Dead chickens in Dumaguete test negative for bird flu

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Dumaguete City (CNN Philippines, August 30) — Authorities on Wednesday declared a village in the Visayas free of bird flu, following a scare involving the recent death of chickens here.

Blood and cloacal swab samples were taken from 30 roosters and chickens that died or were culled in Barangay Talay in Dumaguete City, Negros Oriental on August 23. They all tested negative for bird flu, said Dumaguete City veterinarian Dr. Lourdes Socorro.

"With the negative result, we can safely say the city is avian flu-free, but we will not stop monitoring the situation," she added.

The negative result also indicates that the avian flu has been largely contained within one town in Pampanga and two towns in Nueva Ecija, which are more than a thousand kilometers south of Negros Oriental.

More than 400,000 birds have been culled in affected farms in the two provinces, where the outbreak of an H5-strain virus was first announced earlier in August.

Socorro said the dead fowls here will have to undergo tests for Newcastle Disease, a viral bird disease, and bacteria-based Fowl Cholera.

The Department of Health (DOH) is ramping up preparations to prevent the bird flu's spread among humans, especially as new studies show the virus strain in the country known as H5N6 can be passed from infected birds to humans.

The Health Department has monitored 34 suspected human cases since the bird flu outbreak began this month, but they all tested negative, Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial said on August 25.

The DOH advised the public to avoid getting exposed to live birds that could have been exposed to bird flu. Those who do work with live birds and other poultry products should wear protective equipment and practice regular hand-washing.

Dumaguete-based stringer Roy Bustillo contributed to this report.