THE Department of Health (DOH) warned Friday the public against the possibility of the bird flu outbreak declared in a town in Pampanga also infecting humans.

In a text message, Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial admitted that there is a possibility that humans will also be afflicted by the Avian Influenza Type A Subtype H5 that has killed tens of thousands of chickens in San Luis, Pampanga.

"Major epidemic of bird flu in the US have not documented any cross over to human. However, in Vietnam and HK, a case of human had been identified and died," said Ubial.

"Cross infection to human have (been) minimal but fatal," she added.

On Friday, the Department of Agriculture (DA) has declared a bird flu outbreak in the Pampanga after around 38,000 chickens have died of the virus.

Some 500,000 chickens are also set to be "eliminated" as part of the government's effort to control the spread of the virus.

According to the World Health Organization, human infection is primarily acquired through direct contact with infected animals.

In the meantime, the health department is strongly urging the public to take all the necessary precautions against acquiring the bird flu.

Ubial said this includes staying away from poultry farms and bird sanctuaries.

"Do not go near wild birds or go to farms with fowls," said the health chief.

Ubial also said eating chicken products are not risky as long as they are well-cooked.

She also urged the public to observe proper cough etiquette and take care of their bodies.

"Cover mouth and nose when sneezing and coughing; wash hands often; take plenty water and juices, and have enough rest and sleep," said the health official.

Finally, the DOH said those with symptoms of the virus should immediately seek medical attention.

"If you have flu symptoms that last longer than three days or feel very weak, see a doctor or go to the nearest hospital for testing if its bird flu," said Ubial. (HDT/SunStar Philippines)