The Department of Agriculture (DA) is imposing a temporary ban on the importation of poultry from Vietnam, Italy, Holland and the Netherlands due to the threats of avian influenza, more commonly known as bird flu. Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala issued the order to protect both human and poultry population in the country. The Office Internationale Des Epizooties (OIE) earlier confirmed the outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza virus serotype H5 in Vinh Long and Trah Vinh in Vietnam, and the virus serotype H5N8 in Veneto, Italy; Ter Aar, Holland; and Kamperveen and Utrecht City in the Netherlands. Avian influenza is a highly contagious viral disease affecting several species of food producing birds like chicken, turkey, quail, guinea fowl and common pet and wild birds. Alcala said the Philippines remains as the only country in Southeast Asia that is free from bird flu.