PSMID Advisory on Avian Influenza

On 10 August 2017, the Bureau of Animal Industries (BAI) reported that avian influenza virus subtype H5 was detected among fowls in a farm in San Luis, Pampanga. Influenza H5 is a strain of influenza virus that generally infects birds, often called avian influenza and more popularly know as “bird flu”. Avian Influenza has been reported to cause rare cases of severe respiratory illness among humans.

PSMID Advisory on Avian InfluenzaThere are NO human influenza cases documented even among those who were symptomatic after exposure to infected poultry in the country as of this date. The virus does NOT infect humans easily. Person – to – person transmission appears to be uncertain. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), almost all cases of H5 infection in people have been associated with close contact with infected live or dead birds, or H5 contaminated environments. There is no evidence that the disease can be spread to people through properly prepared and thoroughly cooked food.

Clinical Manifestations:
 The symptoms of avian influenza include the following:

  • fever (often high fever, > 38°C)
  • weakness
  • cough
  • sore throat
  • muscle aches

Other symptoms may include abdominal pain, chest pain and diarrhea and in severe cases, difficulty of breathing and shortness of breath.

Chemoprophylaxis: The World Health Organization also recommends use of Oseltamivir 75 mg once daily for 7-10 days as prophylaxis in the o following conditions:

Pre-exposure prophylaxis for individuals who will be handling or in close contact with live, sick, dying or dead birds infected or potentially infected with avian influenza (other than H7N9), or their bedding.

Post-exposure prophylaxis for 1) household contacts of a documented or suspected case; 2) individuals who have handled or who have been in close contact with live, sick, dying or dead birds infected or potentially infected with avian influenza (other than H7N9), or their bedding; 3) health care workers with close exposure (eg, intubation) to a confirmed or suspected case of avian influenza without appropriate protection; or 4) laboratory workers with unprotected exposure to a virus-containing sample

Post-exposure prophylaxis should be given as soon as possible. It is not required if the last exposure occurred more than 7 days previously

Other Preventive Measures: The following preventive measures should be observed:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water or use alcohol hand rub
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with dirty hands
  • Cover your mouth and nose while coughing or sneezing, and throw away dirty tissue papers immediately
  • Avoid close contact with sick people
  • If you have flu-like illness, you should stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone. If your symptoms worsen, such as with difficulty of breathing, consult a doctor.
  • Do not self-medicate with antibiotics or antiviral medications
  • For residents of the areas with ongoing avian influenza outbreak, stay away from chickens and other birds.
  • Poultry meat or any product related with poultry farm such as egg should be properly prepared and cook thoroughly as a precaution.
  • Get a seasonal influenza vaccination. Although this vaccine will not prevent infection with avian influenza, it can prevent co-infection with human and other avian influenza viruses.

For more information, contact the following: Department of Health at 7771-1001 or 771-1002, PSMID at 912-6036 or 911-6986. For referrals and testing: Surveillance and Response Unit, Research Institute for Tropical Medicine at 994-1887 or 0998-5313590

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