DOH: New bird flu strain deadlier

By Sol Aragones, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 31 2011 03:09 PM | Updated as of Aug 31 2011 11:39 PM

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Health has warned the public of the threat of a new strain of bird flu virus, the H5N1.

Dr. Lyndon Lee Suy, program manager of emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases, said there are now cases of the new strain in China and Vietnam.

H1N1 can be transmitted from one human to another, but H5N1 can be transmitted from an animal to human.

While there are no cases of death due to H1N1 last year, the new strain is another matter. The mutant H5N1 has a 60% mortality rate. This means 6 out of 10 patients die of the disease.

Dr. Eric Tayag, director of the DOH National Epidemiology Center, said 8 persons in Cambodia who were infected with the bird flu virus have died.

Lee Suy stressed the Philippines is still free of any bird flu cases. The country has banned the importation of livestock that are coming from countries with bird flu cases.

He said, however, that the threat is still there since there is a possibility for the smuggled livestock to enter the country.

Tayag also said migratory birds usually come in October.

He also warned those who own a poultry to take extra precaution because of the animal to human transmission of the disease “Pwedeng mahawa yung mga pumapatay ng hayop, nag-aalaga ng hayop at nagtatanggal ng balahibo, dahil droplets ang virus na ito.”

Some of the symptoms of H5N1 are cough, colds and fever. In severe cases, the lungs are affected and if not treated early, it can lead to death.

The Philippine Inter-agency Committee on Zoonoses, which includes the DOH, The Bureau of Animal Industry and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, will meet on Friday to discuss the matter.