WITH the first reported avian flu virus or bird flu infection, the Department of Health (DOH) has advised the public on how to avoid getting the disease that comes from contaminated poultry.
In a statement on Monday, Assistant Secretary Enrique Tayag recommended, among others:
* cooking chicken at 70 degrees Celsius and making sure that the chicken is well-done or without any red or pinkish parts;
* separating raw chicken products from ready-to-eat meals by using different chopping boards;
* washing hands regularly and using clean kitchen items in food preparations.
Tayag said the people most at risk of catching the disease were those handling poultry farms or those who took care of fowls that died from avian flu.
“Those at risk of catching bird flu from affected fowls are those handling the farms, those who took care of fowls that died due to bird flu, those who cleaned the pens of affected chickens or died [due to bird flu]because you have to clean [the chickens],” he said.
He said the virus was not airborne but could be transmitted “through the nose, mouth, the eyes, or inhalation”.
He said, so far, there has been no report of transmission through the consumption of poultry products such as fried chicken or other chicken-based meals.
“There are no reports of getting sick due to bird flu from eating chicken. That’s because nobody eats raw chicken. They found out that if you cook the chicken, the virus will also be killed, so it is safe to eat because it is cooked,” he said.
A person infected with avian flu shows some of the symptoms: mild conjunctivitis or swelling of the eyes and severe pneumonia. Left untreated, bird flu can be fatal, said Tayag.
Tayag said that in case of infection, hospitals would follow the same protocol used for treating Middle East Respiratory Syndrome – Corona Virus (MERS-CoV). This means anyone who has flu-like symptoms must report to their local government unit so they could be taken to regional hospitals for isolation and monitoring.
Interaction with humans infected with the flu, however, does not result in “efficient transmission” of the disease, Tayag said.