Pampanga under state of calamity due to bird flu outbreak

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Poultry near the infected farms will also be killed.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 11) — The province of Pampanga has declared a state of calamity on Friday following an outbreak of bird flu virus in the town of San Luis.

Gov. Lilia Pineda said although the avian flu virus only affected one town, there were seven other towns covered by the 7-kilometer radius of the quarantine area: Apalit, Candaba, Minalin, Sta. Ana, Sto. Tomas, Mexico, San Simon. Also covered was the City of San Fernando.

A state of calamity declaration means funds to help out the affected farmers would be released.

Poultry to be killed

Earlier, the Department of Agriculture (DA) said around 200,000 chicken, ducks and quails will be "culled" or killed within the 1-km radius of the six affected farms to prevent the spread of the Avian Influenza - which can cause illness and death to animals and humans.

DA Sec. Manny Piñol, however, clarified that it would still be safe to eat poultry and poultry products as only a small fraction of the country's supply was affected. He said no reports of human infection had been reported because of the outbreak.

He explained the affected chickens were "layers" or those raised for egg collection - and not for their meat for consumption.

As a precaution, he said there would be a ban on shipment of poultry from Luzon to other parts of the country.

The Department of Health (DOH) also said properly cooked chickens and poultry products remain safe to eat.

What to do

While the Agriculture Department is still investigating the bird flu outbreak, Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial on Friday advised the public to take these safety precautions:

Cover the mouth and nose when sneezing and coughing;

Wash hands often;

Take plenty of water and juices;

Have enough rest and sleep;

Do not go near wild birds or go to farms with fowls;

If you have flu symptoms that last longer than three days or if you feel very weak, see a doctor or go to nearest hospital for testing if it is bird flu.

Ubial said, although the major epidemic of bird flu in the U.S. did not document any crossover of the bird flu virus to humans, one case has been recorded each in Vietnam and Hong Kong.

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

The DOH is closely monitoring the events surrounding the bird flu outbreak.

It said the country has a supply of anti-flu medication when needed by regional health offices and hospitals.

CNN Philippines' Xianne Arcangel and stringer Justine Dizon contributed to this report.