Philippines Report

DOH on heightened alert amid bird flu outbreak in Pampanga

Malacañang is closely monitoring the situation in Pampanga amid the avian flu outbreak in the province, a palace official said Saturday.

Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella also said that the Department of Health (DOH) is assisting the Department of Agriculture (DA) in efforts to contain the virus.

“The DOH is assisting the DA for avian flu investigation and containment activities, which include flu vaccinations and protective equipment for poultry handlers Heightened surveillance for flu-like syndromes is now instituted in Pampanga within seven-kilometer radius of the affected farms,” Abella said.

“We ask our people to remain calm yet vigilant. Any person living or residing in affected areas or who had been exposed to dead chickens who become sick with flu or flu-like illness, such as fever, or sore throat, or cough should immediately report to their local health center or nearest hospital for laboratory test,” he added.

Pampanga has been placed under a state of calamity due to the outbreak in San Luis town.

A seven-kilometer quarantine area has been declared, covering seven other municipalities including Apalit, Minalin, Sta. Ana, Candaba, Mexica, San Simon, San Fernando city and Sto. Tomas.

Heightened alert

In an earlier interview over radio dzBB, DOH Secretary Paulyn Ubial said all hospitals and other health facilities in Pampanga are under heightened monitoring due the avian flu threat.

“Ang pinaghahandaan namin yung heightened surveillance sa lahat ng mga ospital at health facilities diyan sa Pampanga. Nagpalabas na kami ng advisory [ukol dito], she said.

Ubial said that she has instructed local health officials to “test” individuals showing influenza-like illness for more than three days.

On Friday, Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol revealed that the outbreak of H5 avian influenza began in a quail farm before the virus spread to poultry farms in Barangay San Agustin in San Luis town.

Some 37,000 birds have already died from the virus, and a number of farms have reported a mortality rate of as high as 100 percent.

Meanwhile, Ubial said that a team of epidemiologists has been dispatched to assist the Department of Agriculture (DA), and the DOH has pre-positioned about 3,000 test kits in Region 3 or Central Luzon, Ubial said.

“Nagko-collaborate po tayo with DA para mabigyan ng personal protective equipment yung poultry workers at magsasagawa nung disinfection nung mga area with suspected bird flu cases at bibigyan natin sila ng mga vaccination for influenza,” she said.

‘Safe to eat'

Ubial assured the public that “properly cooked chicken remains safe to eat.”

“Hindi po nakukuha ang avian flu sa gastrointestinal… so kahit na kumain tayo ng infected na meat hindi po natin makukuha, Siya po ay nakukuha sa respiratory, yung nalalanghap po.”

“Ang talagang at risk diyan ay yung poultry handlers at saka yung nagkakatay ng manok. Pero yung kumakain ng manok wala na pong risk yan kasi naluto na yung manok at hindi naman sa pagkain nata-transmit ang virus,” she added.

News Source: GMA NEWS

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