Take precautions vs bird flu, DOH urges public
The Department of Health (DOH) has urged the public to take precautions in the wake of the avian flu outbreak in Pampanga province.
“Cover your mouth and nose when sneezing and coughing; wash hands often; take plenty water and juices. Have enough rest and sleep. Do not go near wild birds or go to farms with fowl,” Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial said.
“If you have flu symptoms that last longer than three days or feel very weak, see the doctor or go to the nearest hospital for testing if it’s bird flu,” she added.
According to Ubial, human transmission of avian or bird flu is very rare but usually fatal.
“What we fear is outbreak if humans are affected because of no previous immunity from this type of virus, it can quickly spread,” Ubial said.
But she was quick to add that necessary measures were being taken, including containment of infected birds and chicken.
“The Department of Health is now closely monitoring the events surrounding an avian flu outbreak in poultry in Pampanga, as reported by the Department of Agriculture,” the DOH said in a statement.
The DA has decided to cull around 400,000 chickens to contain the outbreak.
The DOH added that it had stepped up its human flu-like illness surveillance since the reported human influenza outbreaks in Hong Kong and India a few months back.
“We will now look for human cases who may have been exposed to avian flu strain in affected areas. Any person who becomes sick with fever and/or sore throat/cough and had exposure to these dead chickens should report to the local health center or nearest hospital for laboratory confirmation,” Ubial said.
The Research Institute for Tropical Medicine has the capacity to confirm cases of cross-infection to humans as well as to handle the infection should there be cases of human influenza, the DOH said.
“The DOH has a supply of antiflu medication and commodities whenever regional health offices and hospitals will require these,” the DOH said.
“In the interim, all health providers should observe precautions when taking care of patients with flu or flu-like illness. Properly cooked chicken remains safe to eat,” it added.
On Friday, the DA confirmed the first cases of the dreaded virus in Pampanga.
The DA said the virus was found in chickens and ducks in six farms in Barangay San Agustin, San Luis, Pampanga. To prevent the spread of the virus, some 400,000 captive flocks in the area would be destroyed.
“A team of DOH epidemiologists has been dispatched to assist the DA in the outbreak investigation,” Ubial said.
The DOH has also been alerting hospitals in the affected areas to report similar cases.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.