MANILA - Malacañang on Saturday called for calm after the country recorded its first avian flu outbreak in Pampanga, assuring the public that government is taking steps to contain the situation.
"We ask our people to remain calm yet vigilant. We are closely monitoring the situation in Pampanga following the confirmation of avian flu outbreak yesterday by the Department of Agriculture," presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said in a statement.
Abella said officials from the health and agriculture departments have imposed "heightened surveillance" for people who may have flu-like symptoms in Pampanga.
Flu vaccinations and protective equipment for poultry owners and workers have also been distributed, he added.
"As of this time, there has been no report of bird-to-human contamination," Abella said.
Pampanga has been placed under a state of calamity after Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol confirmed that around 37,000 fowls, mostly quail and ducks, have died of the Avian Influenza Type A Subtype H5 in San Luis town, Pampanga.
Most areas affected were layer poultry farms that produce table eggs.
Piñol said the government will cull around 200,000 fowls in the affected area to control the spread of the virus.
Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial earlier said that avian flu is transferred through direct contact with infested poultry. She said properly cooked chicken meat and eggs remain safe to eat.
Health Assistant Secretary Eric Tayag said human contraction of the virus is rare as only those who handle infected birds may be susceptible.
"Sporadic po yan, hindi kaagad nakakahawa po 'yan, puwede pa rin makapag-ingat po," Tayag told radio DZMM in an interview.
Ubial said people should see a doctor if they experience flu symptoms for more than 3 days.