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DOH on heightened alert against bird flu
By: Leonard T. Pineda I
Friday 6th of December 2013

ILOILO CITY, December 6 (PIA) --- The Department of Health (DOH)-6 is on heightened alert status to monitor travelers entering the Iloilo International Airport to prevent the spread of H7N9 bird flu strain in the region.

Dr. Lino Gregorio, Quarantine Medical Officer III of the Bureau of Quarantine-DOH-6, said that they have adequate personnel and facilities here to screen inbound travelers particularly from international flights including Hong Kong where it reported its first human case of H7N9 avian flu.

“The airport is equipped with a thermal scanner which monitors the body temperature of arriving passengers,” said Gregorio.

He said that they are also receiving advisories being sent by authorities from the origin of a particular flight.

“Flight attendants and cabin crews are also properly instructed to observe unusual signs and symptoms of passengers,” he said.

If a passenger is determined to be carrying a virus, the traveler will be quarantined at once and be brought to a designated hospital.

Passengers sitting close to the sick traveler will be monitored and their contact information will be noted for future reference.

The DOH said that symptoms of bird flu H7N9 include fever, sore throat or cough and progressive difficulty of breathing.

To date, there are 141 cases and 47 deaths worldwide. So far, two-thirds of bird flu H7N9 cases were males and two-thirds were more than 50 years old.

The Philippines is still bird-flu free and maintains ban on poultry imports from China as precautionary measure against bird flu.

At present, the DOH do not recommend travel ban to Hong Kong or China.

The DOH said that migratory birds are known sources of bird flu H7N9 virus. Humans get infected after exposure to chickens that do not appear to be ill. (JCM/LTP/PIA-Iloilo) 

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