MANILA— It is safe to eat chicken and eggs despite the bird flu outbreak in two provinces, health and agriculture officials said Friday.
And to drive home their point, Health Secretary Dr. Paulyn Ubial led the other officials in taking a bite of fried chicken and a hard-boiled egg in front of the cameras and news reporters.
“We would like to demonstrate to our media partners and to the public that eating chicken meat and poultry products like egg is not a risk for bird flu transmission. So there is no need to panic. Bird flu cannot be transmitted by eating (poultry),” said Ubial during a media briefing at the Department of Health’s (DOH) media relations unit in Manila.
The chicken and eggs were provided by poultry and poultry product suppliers who want it known that people cannot get bird flu from eating them.
“It can only be transmitted via the respiratory route or through direct exposure to (infected) wild fowls or birds,” Ubial said, adding that at risk are those handling and culling chickens in affected farms within the seven-kilometer radius set in Pampanga and Nueva Ecija.
Handling and culling infected chickens expose a person to the fowls’ aerosolized secretions, which could then find their way into bodily orifices, such as the eyes, nose and mouth.
So as not to contract bird flu, the health chief advised the public to avoid exposure to live birds and fowls in infected areas, wash their hands properly, especially after touching fecal material, and use disinfectant solutions.
Meanwhile, Dr. Socorro Lupisan of the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) said that the chances of patients recovering from H5N6, the bird flu strain found in the two provinces, are big especially when the patient’s symptoms are managed properly.
In an interview, Lupisan, however, said that those who are immuno-compromised or those with pre-existing chronic illnesses, such as diabetes and hypertension, should take more care as they are prone to complications.
All those who display symptoms of flu following exposure to infected birds are isolated to ensure that their condition is monitored, and nasopharyngeal swabs (NPS) and blood samples are taken from them and sent to the RITM in Alabang, Muntinlupa to find out if they are positive or negative for bird flu.
Ubial said that managing bird flu means treating its symptoms.
“If a patient manifests dehydration, we will provide dextrose; electrolytes if there are changes in electrolytes; and if respiratory support is needed, we will provide oxygen, aside from providing anti-viral drugs,” she said.