In an interview with Punto, Dr. Milagros Mananggit of the avian influenza laboratory said no less than 300 samples randomly taken from poultry in areas identified as “hot spots” in Central and Northern Luzon again yielded negative results.
She noted that the spots are either those frequented by migratory birds which can carry bird flu virus from abroad or those which have large poultries such as Minalin in Pampanga. In Central Luzon, these areas are mostly in Pampanga, Nueva Ecija and Bulacan, she said.
“We have not monitored any case of bird flu since we started our surveillance operations in 2006,” she noted. Her laboratory was established only a year later in 2007 at the compound of the DA regional office here.
She said more samples from poultry from the hotspots are to be submitted for more tests at her laboratory two weeks from now.
Migratory birds from abroad normally seek refuge in warmer weather in various parts of Luzon before Christmas and leave the country in February or March. They are feared as possible vectors of the avian flu virus.
This, even as Mananggit clarified that the avian flu laboratory is not equipped with equipment that could determine cases of swine flu among humans, although it could be used to determine swine flu among animals.
“What we have at our laboratory here is a polymerase chain reaction equipment which uses reagents or solutions that make molecular diagnosis of samples. It can’t be used to determine swine flu among humans,” she said.
“In suspected cases of swine flu among humans, the examination should still be at the Regional Institute of Tropical Medicine (RITM) or the San Lazaro Hospital, and for animals, it should be at the Philippine Animal Health Center in Quezon City,” she said.