Philippine health officials are closely monitoring the events surrounding an avian flu outbreak in poultry in Pampanga, as reported by the Department of Agriculture (DA). DA decided to cull around 500,000 chickens to contain the animal outbreak.
Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Pinol said at least 38,000 chickens have died of the Avian influenza Type A Subtype H5 in San Luis town in the province north of Manila. He has ordered the halt of transport of poultry from Luzon to other parts of the country for now.
The Philippines Department of Health (DOH) has stepped-up the human flu like-illness surveillance since the reported human influenza outbreaks in Hongkong and India few months back and 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.
A team of DOH epidemiologists has been dispatched to assist the DA in the outbreak investigation. The DOH is now alerting hospitals in the affected areas to report similar cases.
The Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) has the capacity to confirm these cases. The DOH will coordinate efforts with DA, FAO and WHO to prevent human cases. The DOH has supply of anti-flu medication and commodities whenever regional health offices and hospitals will require these.
In the interim, all health providers should observe respiratory precautions when taking care of patients with flu or flu-like illness. Properly cooked chicken remains safe to eat.
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