In response to the recent bird flu outbreak in Pampanga, the Chairman and CEO of the Philippine Red Cross (PRC), Richard J. Gordon, immediately instructed all PRC Chapters nationwide to monitor their respective communities against the virus.
This was after the announcement of the Department of Agriculture (DA), wherein avian influenza or commonly known as bird flu virus is confined in some farms in the municipality of San Simon.
According to the Department of Health (DOH), avian influenza is a viral infection that spreads among birds but can infect humans as well. It can be transmitted to humans through inhalation or contamination with infected discharges of feces of sick bird such as chicken.
To halt the spread of the virus, the PRC Chapters all over the country immediately activated its Red Cross 143 volunteers to keep an eye on their areas and report possible bird flu outbreak to the PRC Operations Center. Through this, the PRC can immediately relay it to the DA and DOH for proper verification and validation.
“The Philippine Red Cross is now mobilizing all staff and 143 volunteers to monitor all communities and to spread awareness campaign on what precautions should be taken in an area affected by bird flu. The volunteers are our first line of defense to report any incidents on disasters and emergencies but as well as epidemics such as bird flu,” said Chairman Gordon.
Chairman Gordon conceptualized the Red Cross 143, which is the flagship volunteer program of PRC that recruits and trains 44 volunteers in every barangay (one leader and 43 members). They serve as humanitarian arms and responders on the ground.
Various places are on high alert especially in areas where there are poultry farms, public markets, cockpit stadiums, homes with fighting cocks, foul or pets.
The common symptoms of bird flu on humans are fever, body weakness or muscle pain, cough, sore throat, sore eyes and diarrhea in some persons, as well as, difficulty of breathing in a week’s time from onset in severe cases.
Moreover, the PRC continuously conducts public awareness campaign about the virus as part of a broad avian influenza pandemic prevention.
The PRC urges the public to take precautionary measures to avoid the risk of bird flu such as the following: report unusual deaths of chicken or any birds, wash your hands with soap and water after handling live or dressed poultry products, cook poultry products thoroughly, protect yourself by using masks, goggles and gloves while handling sick chickens/birds, isolation of infected person, and seek immediate medical treatment if you experience such symptoms.
To report possible cases of avian influenza, you may contact your respective PRC Chapter in your community or just dial Red Cross 143 Hotline or trunkline (+632) 790-2300.
For more information and preventive measures about the virus, just visit the PRC’s website at www.redcross.org.ph or like its Facebook page @phredcross.