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4 Questions We Have About the Bird Flu—Answered!
Anne Mari Ronquillo
Published on

A new epidemic has hit the poultry population of Pampanga, putting the province in a state of calamity. The avian flu, or H5N1, broke out for the first time in the Philippines, and anyone who has ever watched Contagion is washing their hands in distress.

But don’t let the apocalyptic panic set in just yet. The Department of Agriculture (DA) is already on the defensive, working with the poultry farmers of Pampanga to avoid the spread of the disease. According to Philstar, the DA is currently in the process of culling the heads of the infected population in San Luis, Pampanga.

The affected farms in Pampanga will suffer massive losses, as another Philstar report says that this outbreak will cause 80 percent to 100 percent mortality rate in the country’s poultry population. While there is no reason to think that the human population is at risk for any widespread transmissions, it is important to be informed and prepared.

Chickens

What is the bird flu and why are people worried about it?
Avian influenza is a viral disease that infects birds. Ducks, pigeons, eagles—our winged animal friends. The fact that it affects chickens is what’s likely making humans panic. Because despite not being in the wild, we are big consumers of chicken and egg products. The strain in question, H5N1, is a particularly deadly one—both to birds and the unfortunate humans who catch it. According to the World Health Organization’s Center for Disease Control (WHO-CDC), 60 percent of the humans who have been infected by H5N1 had died.

Who is at risk of getting the bird flu?
WHO-CDC studies have documented that the bird flu does not spread among humans. However, humans who come in close contact with infected birds are at risk of getting the disease. If you’re sitting in your office cubicle right now reading news about it, you probably have nothing to worry about.

What are the authorities doing to contain the outbreak?
The Department of Agriculture, the Department of Health (DOH), as well as the Biodiversity Management Bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources are all working to manage the outbreak. According to CNN Philippines, poultry products from Luzon are currently banned from being shipped off. A 7-kilometer radius controlled area has been established around the original quarantine area to ensure containment.
Eggs

Is it safe to eat chicken?
CNN Philippines reports that the DOH is closely monitoring events following the outbreak. Properly prepared and cooked poultry food products should not pose a threat to human consumers. There are no current recalls or reports that any affected product have made it to the consumer market. So long as you keep your eggs scrambled, and your chicken meat cooked through, you’ll be safe.

Keep informed and stay safe, Claires!