MANILA – The health of two persons suspected of contracting avian flu are being monitored, Department of Health (DOH) spokesperson, Dr. Eric Tayag, said Tuesday.
The two, who are from a town in Pampanga where a bird flu outbreak among chickens has been declared, have been showing flu-like symtoms – the first has fever, while the second has cough – although they have so far not experienced breathing difficulties, Tayag said during a press briefing held at the DOH Media Relations Unit in Tayuman, Sta. Cruz, Manila.
Tayag said they have been isolated, and nose and throat swabs and blood samples taken from them have been sent to the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine in Alabang, Muntinlupa to confirm if they indeed have bird flu. Test results will be known on Wednesday.
The two were part of the initial batch of 20 poultry farm workers who were subjected to tests by the DOH because they had direct contact with infected chickens.
"You cannot be considered a suspect case if you just have (flu) symptoms, like fever, but did not have any exposure (to infected animals)," he explained, adding that members of the two patients’ households are likewise under observation.
"They don't need to be isolated or quarantined because there is great difficulty in transmission. There is no sustained human-to-human transmission," he said.
At risk of contracting bird flu are those who have direct contact with infected birds, such as those who care, slaughter and dress chickens and clean their coop, and those who come near them.
The virus, which is found in infected chickens’ feathers, intestines and feces, can enter a person’s body through the eyes, nose and mouth.
Meanwhile, Tayag assured that the chances of survival of bird flu patients are big, especially if the illness is detected and managed early.
“So far, this is still an animal health problem. This is not yet a public health problem," he said.
Tayag further said that the health department, which has been preparing for bird flu since 1997, has sent 8,000 Tamiflu (Oseltamivir) capsules to Pampanga, out of the 800,000 capsules they have in stock. (PNA)