H5N6 confirmed in Philippines avian flu outbreak

Tests on samples collected in recent highly pathogenic H5 outbreaks in Philippines poultry, the country's first, reveal the H5N6 subtype, based on follow-up tests done at an Australian laboratory.

In other avian flu developments, South Africa, Italy, and Taiwan reported more H5 outbreaks.

No human illnesses so far

The Philippines agriculture ministry announced results today on its Web site, according to a statement posted by Avian Flu Diary (AFD), an infectious disease news blog. H5N6 has been linked to 17 human illnesses, all in China. Earlier this year, Myanmar and Taiwan reported their first H5N6 outbreaks in birds, marking increased spread of the virus in Asia.

Manny Pinol, the Philippines' agriculture secretary, said culling has been completed at outbreak sites in Pampanga and Nueva Ecija provinces, both located on Luzon, the country's largest island.

Arlene Vytiaco, with the country's Bureau of Animal Industry, said no workers on the affected poultry farms have showed signs of illness.

Outbreaks in South Africa, Italy, Taiwan

On the heels of recent H5N8 outbreaks in poultry, South Africa reported three new H5N8 events involving poultry and an ibis, according to an Aug 22 report from the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE).

Start dates for the events range from Aug 12 to Aug 15. One of the outbreaks involved backyard hobby ducks and swans in newly affected North West province, killing 5 of 62 susceptible birds.

The other two outbreaks occurred in different cities in already-affected Gauteng province. One involved backyard white geese, with the virus killing 19 of 34 birds. The other involved a sacred ibis found dead.

Meanwhile, Italy over the past 2 days has reported four more highly pathogenic H5 outbreaks, according to statements from an Italian reference lab translated and posted today by AFD.

Yesterday the lab said two more H5 outbreaks have been tested at commercial turkey farms, both in Veneto region.

On Aug 22 the lab reported two more outbreaks, one involving an H5 virus at a turkey farm in Veneto region and one linked to H5N8 at a game bird farm in Lombardy region.

After a surge of H5N8 outbreaks in the winter and spring in Europe, detections have decreased to just sporadic reports, except for Italy, which has continued to report a steady stream of outbreaks in poultry, mostly turkeys.

In Taiwan, agriculture officials today reported a highly pathogenic H5N2 outbreak at a commercial farm housing native chickens in Yunlin County. The event began on Aug 15, killing 200 of 25,305 birds.

See also:

Aug 24 AFD post on Philippines testing

Aug 22 OIE report on H5N8 in South Africa

Aug 24 AFD post on H5 outbreaks in Italy's Veneto region

Aug 23 AFD post on H5 outbreak in Italy's Veneto and Lombardy regions

Aug 24 OIE report on H5N2 in Taiwan

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