By Paulo Loreto Lim
The Bacolod City Health Office (CHO) is currently coordinating with the City Agriculture Office and Office of the City Veterinarian to monitor for potential local cases of avian influenza, or bird flu, following an outbreak in Pampanga, which has resulted in the cull of nearly 200,000 chickens, ducks, quails, and other poultry.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), bird flu primarily affects poultry and other bird species, while humans are rarely infected.
However, the virus has been known to infect humans through direct contact with an infected bird or through an intermediate host, such as other animals that are also susceptible to the virus.
Infected birds are known to carry the virus in their saliva, mucus, and feces.
According to the CHO, symptoms of infection include conjunctivitis and influenza-like illnesses, sometimes accompanied by nausea; abdominal pain; diarrhea; vomiting; severe respiratory illness; neurologic changes, including altered mental status and seizures; and the involvement of other organ systems.
South Korea recently downgraded their bird flu alert, following their most recent bout with the deadly H5N8 strain of the virus, with the first case recorded in November of last year. The presence of the strain has since resulted in the cull of over 37 million farm birds.
The last reported case was on June 19.
Meanwhile, the CHO noted, local hospitals and health centers have been directed to immediately report local cases of bird flu./WDJ