DOH: PHL remains bird flu-free

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Wednesday, December 4, 2013

MANILA (Updated 11:17 a.m.) -- The Department of Health (DOH) said Wednesday that no case of the feared H7N9 bird flu has been reported in the country.

DOH spokesman Dr. Eric Tayag said they have yet to monitor any case of the deadly virus despite the recent discovery in Hong Kong.

"The Philippines is still bird flu-free," said Tayag.

On Tuesday, Hong Kong confirmed that a 36-year-old Indonesian domestic helper who has a history of travelling to Chinese city of Shenzhen has been infected and is now in critical condition.

Nevertheless, the health official said airports have already been directed to screen inbound travelers for fever so that early isolation can be done early, if deemed necessary.

"At present, the WHO (World Health Organization) and the DOH do not recommend travel ban to Hong Kong or China," said Tayag.

Tayag also said that the country will still maintain the ban on poultry imports from China as part of the precautionary measure against bird flu.

He noted how cases of bird flu among humans have all been found to have come from birds and poultry animals and none from the human-to-human transmission.

"Humans get infected after exposure to chickens that do not appear to be ill," said Tayag.

Despite being bird flu-free, the DOH assistant secretary said it is important for Filipinos to employ proper hygiene practices in order to avoid getting respiratory viruses such as the H7N9.

"Prevent spread of respiratory viruses by frequent hand washing, covering your nose and mouth if you cough or sneeze, and wear face masks, if needed," he said.

Tayag also urged those with symptoms of respiratory illnesses to seek immediate medical attention.

H7N9 bird flu symptoms include fever, sore throat or cough, and progressive difficulty of breathing. (HDT/Sunnex)

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