From Under This Hat: Avian flu
By KATHLEEN T. OKUBO
Last week, the Philippine Press Institute (PPI) in cooperation with the Department of Health and the Department of Agriculture conducted a seminar-workshop with the help of UNICEF for members of the northern Luzon based journalists as part of the international campaign to contain the bird flu pandemic.
Among the twelve in attendance, three of us came from Baguio: Sonia Daoas from broadcast, Jane Cadalig and I from the print media. Sonia and I thought it was good to get away from the cold spell in Baguio but actually, it was away from the natural cold climate into the artificially cold air-conditioned rooms in the venue. Whether that was good or bad depended on our ability to control the temperature when needed otherwise it was also too cold.
From the resource speakers who were quite articulate and knowledgeable of the international campaign information, we were almost alarmed when pandemic was defined as global. It sounded like an epidemic in a global scale and the picture in my mind was gory and so ugly in a grand scale.
It turned out that the virus, an ordinary flu virus called influenza A has always been there, a native of planet earth. It is contagious, like the ordinary flu, and transmitted from one host to another by “air, land, sea” through globules. By air – it can be forced out of a sick carrier by way of coughing, sneezing or talking. By land – through spit, pee or poo from a carrier irresponsibly strewn in the path of other possible carriers. By water, streams may wash down infected matters from a host or a carrier to the next victim. This way too from one host to another. So boil your drinking water well.
The best, simplest and most economical way to keep this virus away is to keep clean and healthy. Wash your hands. Especially before handling food, drinking water, etc. and people too. The very young and the moderately to the very old are so vulnerable to this infection. Stay away from crowded areas. Besides observing cleanliness, and good cough-sneeze manners – Cover your mouth. Eat healthy, live healthy and exercise.
Also, this virus that has been known to only infect birds has now mutated into one that may yet infect pigs and now humans (that is you and me … our specie). This flu strain is called H5N1. According to our resource speakers, globally (none recorded in the Philippines) it has killed some 200 people (none in the country), but the Philippines is listed as one very vulnerable third world country.
The virus can enter the country by way of: infected travelers (human or avian) especially from countries where the infection is active. So our government has placed heat (fever) detectors in our ports and airports to help screen-out possible sick travelers. But to determine and discriminate against infected birds migrating from infected areas into the country is quite a challenge. So please watch out for dead wild birds. Report any strange sightings that may be related to Avian flu report it to the nearest Department of Health (DOH) or Department of Agriculture (DA) office. If you have to dispose of the dead animal wear gloves, burn it or bury it well so other animals will not be able to dig it out. Be vigilant and teach the kids too. #