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Palace allays fears of avian flu among humans

By Argyll Cyrus Geducos

Malacañang on Saturday allayed fears of possible bird-to-human contamination of the avian flu strain which hit San Luis, Pampanga this month.

A caretaker feeds chickens at a poultry farm in Brgy San Roque, San Isidro Town, Nueva Ecija, August 18 2017. Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol on Friday confirmed that more cases of poultry deaths were reported in Nueva Ecjia, but authorities have yet to validate if the incident was caused by the avian flu.(Mark Balmores)

A caretaker feeds chickens at a poultry farm in Brgy San Roque, San Isidro Town, Nueva Ecija, August 18 2017. (Mark Balmores)


The Department of Agriculture (DA) reported that based on test results, the avian flu strain AH5N6 can be transmitted to humans.

Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella, in a statement, said there has been no documented bird-to-human contamination of the virus in the Philippines.

“The results are in–all those who showed flu-like symptoms have already tested negative for the AH5N6 virus, this is according to the Department of Health (DOH),” Abella said Saturday morning.

Abella also reminded the public that bird flu is transferred via respiratory and direct routes. Properly cooked chicken meat and eggs also remain safe to eat.

Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol earlier said that all poultry products available in the market are safe for consumption as live fowls undergo tests and certifications before being dressed and sold in markets.

The DA has also confirmed that the avian flu strain found in San Luis, Pampanga tested positive for H5N6, a virus that can be transmitted to humans but with a very low rate of mortality and transmission.

President Duterte is also set to visit Pampanga on Monday, to lead the boodle fight and eat poultry products to assure the public that cooked eggs and bird meat are safe for public consumption.

“On Monday, the President will travel to San Fernando, Pampanga. He will lead us in a boodle fight where we will partake of balut, chicken barbecue, and fried itik,” Piñol had said.

“I relayed to the President the appeal of the stakeholders of the poultry industry for the President to help in the campaign to educate our consumers that anything sold in our market is safe,” he added.

Malacañang earlier assured the public that it is closely monitoring Pampanga and Nueva Ecija following the reported cases of avian flu.

The Palace also asked the public to remain calm yet vigilant and discouraged them from spreading unverified information that may cause undue alarm and panic.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) had also extended assistance in culling the chicken in the affected areas. The AFP personnel were provided with Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and Prophylaxis Medicines (Tamiflu), good for 10 days.

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