MANILA -- The Department of Health (DOH) on Friday began preparing a health team to be deployed to the municipalities of Jaen and San Isidro in Nueva Ecija province where chicken deaths due to bird flu have been confirmed.

"The DOH team in Pampanga, as a contingency measure, was already assembling a team that will be deployed immediately to these farms (in Nueva Ecija)," DOH spokesperson Dr. Eric Tayag said in an interview.

As part of preparations, Tayag said, medicines, such as Tamiflu (Oseltamivir), will also be sent to the province, to be dispensed to farm workers as a prophylactic drug to prevent them from contracting avian flu.

He assured that the health department, which has been preparing for bird flu since 1997, has 800,000 capsules of Tamiflu in stock, enough to deal with emergencies.

No human case of bird flu has so far been reported.

"We continue our monitoring and so far, it (bird flu) remains an animal health problem," he added.

Meanwhile, Tayag noted that only those exposed to infected chickens will be put under observation.

People 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, are at risk of contracting avian flu.

The virus, which is found in infected chickens’ feathers, blood, saliva, intestines and feces, can enter a person’s body through the eyes, nose and mouth.

Tayag has assured that the chances of survival of bird flu patients are big, especially if the illness is detected and managed early. (PNA)