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The Philippines is preparing for the reported new type of swine flu from China, which has the capability to trigger a pandemic, according to a top official of the Department of Agriculture (DA).

“The DA-BAI (Bureau of Animal Industry) will host this week a technical meeting with the Philippine Inter-agency Committee on Zoonoses to prepare the framework for managing emerging diseases that affect animals and humans,” DA-BAI officer-in-charge Director Ronnie Domingo told GMA News Online.

“The National Task Force on Animal-Borne Diseases (NTFAD) which is chaired by the Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary shall make the final recommendations and report to the President,” Domingo said.

US science journal PNAS published a study that a new type of swine flu, named G4, possesses "all the essential hallmarks of being highly adapted to infect humans.”

The scientists said G4 genetically descended from the H1N1 strain that caused a pandemic in 2009.

Domingo noted that the study didn't say the virus is already causing damages.

“The study only describes the virus as having the potential to mutate and cause public and animal health risks,” he said.

Nevertheless, the DA-BAI chief said the findings is “a signal for us to strengthen our interagency collaboration for surveillance of diseases transmissible from animals to man.”

The study noted that G4 was observed to be “highly infectious,” replicating in human cells and causing more serious symptoms in ferrets than other viruses.

Tests also showed that any immunity humans gain from exposure to seasonal flu does not provide protection from G4, according to the report.

“DA-BAI maintains our strict protocol on regulating animals and meat products coming from countries with notifiable diseases,” Domingo said.

“The public especially those engaged in animal farming are encouraged to report to the Department of Health any unusual sickness among farm workers,” he added.

The DA-BAI also urged the public to verify sources of information with either DA-BAI or the Department of Health for proper guidance.


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