DOH: No confirmed human cases yet due to influenza A H5N6 (Bird Flu) in the country

The Department of Health (DOH) announced that as of August 24, 2017, there has been NO confirmed human case due to Influenza A H5N6. Since the Department of Agriculture’s (DA) declaration of the bird flu outbreaks in early August, the DOH was able to identify 34 suspect cases (30 from Pampanga and 4 from Nueva Ecija). They were promptly placed in isolation as part of precautionary measures to avert any possible human to human transmission of infection. Thus, they were also started on the antiviral Oseltamivir while awaiting the laboratory results from the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM). As of yesterday 24 August, all were negative for Influenza A H5N6.

In Region III, the DOH has designated the Dr. Jose B. Lingad Memorial Medical Center in San Fernando City, Pampanga and the Dr. Paulino Garcia Memorial and Research Medical Center in Cabanatuan City as referral hospitals for assessment of suspect cases and collection of specimen for laboratory diagnosis.

In response to this current health threat we are facing, we are working closely together with the DA to ensure that poultry and poultry by products are safe for consumption. We at the DOH are doing everything to effectively respond to this infection. With our partners, we are actively disseminating public health advisories on the prevention of the transmission of bird flu virus to the human population.

Likewise, our DOH epidemiologic surveillance and response system is active and in place. Trained disease surveillance officers and health workers have been alerted to investigate and report suspected human cases within 24 to 48 hours.

“I have ordered the formulation of the Interim Guidelines, Standards and other Instructions in the Implementation of Enhanced Human Avian Flu Surveillance Management, and Infection Control in the Health Setting. Further, I directed the pre-emptive positioning of necessary commodities to protect against bird flu transmission to humans such as Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and anti-viral medicines to DOH Region Office III,” Secretary Paulyn Jean Rosell-Ubial stated.

RITM, as the national reference laboratory, is prepared to receive samples for detection. While the designated referral hospitals (San Lazaro Hospital, RITM and Lung Center of the Philippines) are on heightened alert status with trained medical and para-medical teams who are ready to attend to bird flu cases should they be referred to these health facilities.

“On top of these preparations, I call on everyone to be vigilant, follow the advisories issued by concerned government agencies and to be equipped with the right information about the disease. As a precautionary measure for those who had direct contact with infected poultry and had developed any flu symptoms, we urge you and the public to report to the Regional Epidemiology and Surveillance Units (RESUs) of the DOH Regional Offices and seek immediate consultation at the nearest DOH Medical Hospital and Centers,” Secretary Ubial emphasized.