Over the weekend, news broke that Avian Influenza, or more commonly known as the bird flu virus has hit the Philippines following the death of over 37,000 fowls in San Luis, Pampanga.
Due to this, Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol made a lengthy announcement on Sunday about what the government is doing to contain the virus.
“This is the first time that the country has recorded the presence of the Bird Flu virus and I am calling on all Filipinos to please help government contain this crisis by cleaning up their farms and closely monitoring their chicken for any signs of disease,” he said.
So far, the whole province of Pampanga has been placed under a state of calamity. The government has also ordered the culling of around 200,000 ducks, quails, and chickens in affected areas to prevent the virus from spreading further.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Avian Influenza can be contracted by humans through direct or indirect exposure to infected live or dead poultry or contaminated environments, which can sometimes prove to be fatal.
Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial, for her part, issued some guidelines to allay public fears and correct misconceptions on the bird flu. Here’s what we need to know:
It’s extremely rare but fatal
“Yung pag transmit ng bird flu from bird to humans is a very rare event—it has happened. Ang recorded lang dito sa Southeast Asia tatlong beses lang po nangyari yan,” she said, adding, “Pero in all the three cases, fatal yung nangyari.”
“Yung paghawa ng isang tao, sa ibang tao, hindi pa ho na-document yun,” she said. Meanwhile, the WHO states that bird flu can cause mild conjunctivitis to severe pneumonia in humans.
Who are most at risk?
“Ang usually na e-expose sa virus ng bird flu ay ‘yung handlers, ‘yung sa farm and ‘yung kumakatay ng manok. Pero once na malinis na ‘yung manok at ito po ay na ship na at dumating sa bahay natin, wala ng virus yan,” Ubial explained.
What are the symptoms?
“It’s usually flu-like symptoms. Lagnat, trangkaso, sumasakit yung mga kasu-kasuhan, nanghihina yung tao, pwedeng may ubo’t sipon, pwedeng may diarrhea,” she said.
Can we eat poultry products?
“Hindi po dapat ikatakot yung mga meat and poultry products kasi hindi po yun ang pinanggagalingan ng bird flu or virus. Kung patay na yung hayop, patay na rin po yung virus,” she said.
How about others food like balut and isaw?
“Yung sa egg naman po ay sa shell ng egg usually nagkakaroon ng virus. Sa farm, hinuhugasan po lahat ng itlog. Pag labas niyan safe na po yan wala ng virus,” Ubial said.
“Walang virus doon sa itlog or other parts of the chicken and fowl—yung mga itik, mga quail. Wala pong kailangan ikabahala yung ating mga kababayan. Ito po kasi ay malinis na and usually hindi po nabubuhay yung virus sa dead meat or other products,” she added.
How to prevent contracting the virus:
“Ang advice lang namin sa public is lutuin mabuti para ng sa gayon lahat ng traces ng viruses ay talagang mamatay sa meat and poultry products.”