MANILA: The Philippines has deployed more troops to cull thousands of chickens one day after the farm ministry confirmed the spread of bird flu into a second province north of the capital, Manila. More than 100 soldiers were sent on Saturday to the towns of Jaen and San Isidro in Nueva Ecija province after two cases of avian flu were detected in quails, army spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Isagani Nato said in a statement.

The new bird flu cases were about 50 km from the initial outbreak in a swampy area of Pampanga that is a sanctuary for migratory birds from China. Authorities have not determined the cause of the bird flu outbreak, nor the exact strain, on which tests are being done in Australia.

There has been no case of human transmission in either outbreak, and early tests have ruled out highly pathogenic H5N1 strain. Nato said the deployment in Nueva Ecija followed a request from the Bureau of Animal Industry in the Department of Agriculture for assistance “after confirming a new incident of bird flu outbreak”. He said troops were now undergoing training on how to do their jobs. The 300 soldiers sent to Pampanga on Thursday culled nearly 30,000 chicken from a farm within a one kilometer radius of the first bird flu outbreak. The farm ministry said about 600,000 chickens on about 36 farms in Pampanga will be culled. It did not say how many will be culled in the second province.—Reuters