The Department of Health (DOH) reminded the public yesterday to observe proper sanitation when preparing and cooking poultry as bird flu virus infected hundreds of thousands of fowls in Pampanga.
“We understand the anxiety or fear of the public but please remember this, we don’t eat raw chicken and as long as we cook it, we are protected against any bacteria, viruses that may have contaminated it,” Health Assistant Secretary Dr. Enrique Tayag said in an interview with ANC.
Proper hygiene and washing of hands are the first line of defense against possible infection, Tayag said.
“And if you get any fever, especially when you handled dressed chicken in San Luis, Pampanga or nearby, then you have to report to your hospital so they can make a confirmation,” he added.
Tayag noted, however, that there has been no reported case in the world of bird flu virus being transmitted to humans through consumption of contaminated meat.
Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol declared on Friday the first case of avian flu in the country with an outbreak of the virus that infected about 200,000 fowls, including chickens and ducks, in San Luis, Pampanga.
It may take one to two weeks to investigate the outbreak and verify possible cases of infection among people who have been exposed to dead poultry, as well as the residents in the affected areas, Tayag explained.
Tayag assured the public that the DOH and Department of Agriculture are on top of the situation and will oversee the culling of the infected birds.
International health experts are already monitoring the situation in the Philippines as bird flu also hit neighboring countries, including Indonesia, Vietnam, Bangladesh, and China, the assistant secretary said.
Meanwhile, Malacañang called on the public yesterday to remain calm but vigilant as the Department of Agriculture (DA) declared a bird flu outbreak in Pampanga.
“We are closely monitoring the situation in Pampanga following the confirmation of bird flu outbreak yesterday by the Department of Agriculture,” Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said in a statement.
Abella called on residents near the affected areas or those who have been exposed to dead chickens to immediately go to their local health center or nearest hospital for laboratory tests once they experience flu or flu-like symptoms such as fever, sore throat, or cough.
He assured the public, however, that “properly cooked chicken meat and eggs remain safe to eat” as the virus can only be transmitted through respiratory routes.
Abella said the DOH is assisting the DA in investigating and containing the outbreak, including providing flu vaccinations and protective equipment for poultry handlers and responders.