The bird flu, or avian influenza, is a contagious disease that spreads among birds. It is caused by the type A strain in the influenza virus and can become deadly, especially to domesticated fowls such as chickens and ducks.
Infected birds usually exhibit symptoms like dishevelled feathers, reduced egg production and respiratory troubles. Chickens and ducks usually do not recover from these symptoms and can die within 24 hours after the first symptom.
The migratory nature of birds hugely contribute to the spread of bird flu. For the domesticated birds, their closed quarters promotes contamination. The virus can survive for three months in bird droppings and is transferrable through contaminated equipment, bird feed, and rats.
The recent outbreak in Pampanga prompted mass anxiety against poultry products. DOH’s Dr. Eric Tayag announced last Monday that the bird flu outbreak should not discourage the public from consuming chicken or eggs. In an interview, he insisted that as long as the chicken is cooked properly and the egg is not raw or runny, there’s no problem in eating them. Even balut is safe for consumption.
The Department of Agriculture said the week before that the strain found in the Pampanga outbreak could not be transferrable to humans. He stated that “the four laboratory tests conducted showed that it’s type A-H5, and it’s negative of type A-H5N1, which is the strain that could be transmitted from animals to human beings.”
While it is unlikely for humans to catch the bird flu virus, there have been precautions placed on people working in the poultry industry. These include poultry breeders and those who pluck the feathers of infected chickens. Direct contact with these chickens make them vulnerable to contaminated tears and secretions.
In cases of flu-like symptoms like coughing, fever, and muscle aches, the DOH advises these people to visit the nearest health center.