The Department of Health (DOH) is now closely monitoring cases of flu-like illnesses among humans following an avian influenza or bird flu outbreak in Pampanga.
Earlier, Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol revealed that there had been a bird flu outbreak at a poultry farm in Barangay San Agustin, San Luis, Pampanga.
The outbreak of avian influenza Type A subtype H4 happened in a quail farm before spreading to poultry farms.
Indications of the disease appeared as early as April, Piñol said.
In a statement, the DOH said that it has stepped up its surveillance of human flu-like illnesses since the reported human influenza outbreaks in Hongkong and India few months back and now it will look for persons who may have been exposed to avian flu strain in the affected areas.
It advised that people who become "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."
The DOH said it has already dispatched a team of epidemiologists to assist the Department of Agriculture (DA) in investigating the bird flu outbreak, and that the DA has decided to cull around 500,000 chickens to contain the outbreak.
It is also presently alerting hospitals in the affected areas to report similar cases, and advised health providers to observe respiratory precautions when caring for patients with flu or flu-like illness.
The DOH said that it is working with DA, the World Health Organization (WHO), and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations to prevent human cases.
Properly cooked chicken remains safe to eat, it added. —Jessica Bartolome/NB, GMA News