Philippines bans bird imports from Australia over bird flu
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Philippines bans bird imports from Australia over bird flu

FILE PHOTO: A test tube labelled
FILE PHOTO: A test tube labelled "Bird Flu", eggs and a piece of paper in the colours of the Australian national flag are seen in this picture illustration, Jan 14, 2023. (Reuters)

The Philippines has banned imports of birds and poultry products from Australia following recent cases of bird flu in the country.

There were reported outbreaks of H7N3 and H7N9 — subtypes of the highly pathogenic avian influenza virus — on May 23 and May 25 in the state of Victoria, as confirmed by the Australian Centre for Disease Preparedness, Manila’s Department of Agriculture said in a statement on Saturday.

In a memorandum signed by Agriculture Secretary Francisco Tiu Laurel on June 6, all shipments of domestic and wild birds from Australia would be allowed provided that they were slaughtered or produced on or before May 9, according to the statement.

Australia is the Southeast Asian nation’s fourth-largest source of imported chicken meat, totalling 5,365 metric tons as of April. During the same period, the Philippines imported 46,987 heads of day-old chicks and 30,780 pieces of hatching eggs, the agriculture department said.

Separately, the World Health Organization said a child confirmed as Australia’s first human infection by H5N1 avian influenza was likely exposed to the virus during a trip to India. The girl, 2 1/2 years old, was hospitalised in March upon her return and spent time in intensive care in Melbourne before recovering.

The WHO said 891 cases of human infection with H5N1 were reported from 2003 through May 22 this year, including 463 deaths. The cases spanned two dozen countries.

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