The College of Agriculture (CA) and the College of Veterinary Medicine (CVM) conducted a public forum for UPLB constituents on the much-feared Influenza A (H1N1) virus that has spread to thousands of people in many countries around the world. The forum was held on May 6 at the Training Hall of the Agricultural Systems Cluster, CA, in response to the UPLB community's growing concern on the health issue. Forum participants included University constituents and representatives of local government units.
The Animal and Dairy Sciences Cluster (ASDC) through Dr. Cesar C. Sevilla initiated the event with Dr. Hope G. Rovira, Dr. Loinda R. Baldrias, and Dr. Mildred A. Padilla of the CVM as resource persons. Dr. Ma. Victoria M. Turalba, UHS director, also answered some questions during the open forum.
Dr. Rovira, Dr. Baldrias, and Dr. Padilla presented a backgrounder on the dreaded disease which is now threatening to gather pace worldwide. According to them, pigs can be infected by both human and avian influenza viruses in addition to swine influenza virus.
The recent A (H1N1) outbreak was first detected in April 2009 in the United States with Mexico having the highest number of persons infected. As of May 5, there have been 1,085 confirmed cases and 26 deaths reported. The virus is now at alert level 5 and has so far spread to 22 countries. Majority of the cases are of young adult women from 25 to 44 years old. The World Health Organization is distributing antiviral drugs to 70 nations.
A (H1N1) is transmitted from person to person via the respiratory route, through aerosol droplets produced through sneezing, coughing, and talking; and contact with contaminated surfaces and objects.
The Philippine government has already conducted proactive strategies to fight A (H1NI) through strict airport and seaport surveillance, use of footbaths, thermal scanning of disembarking passengers, establishment of hot lines, and acquisition of a million doses of Oseltamivir (Tamiflu).
Dr. Rovira and Dr. Baldrias said that the signs and symptoms of A (H1N1) infection are fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills, fatigue, diarrhea, and vomiting. Its incubation period is from 2 to 7 days. At risk are young children, pregnant women, and chronically ill patients with pulmonary, heart, metabolic, and cancer diseases.
For diagnosis, clinical signs and a history of contact with sick persons are important information. Prevention can be done by avoiding close contact with sick people, practicing proper hygiene by covering the mouth and nose with tissue paper when coughing and sneezing, avoiding touching one's eyes, nose or mouth, and washing hands often; and maintaining a strong immune system by getting plenty of rest, being physically fit, drinking plenty of fluids, and eating nutritious food. Those who think they have symptoms of A (H1N1) are advised to consult a doctor and to stay home for self quarantine.
Dr. Virginia R. Cardenas, vice chancellor for community affairs, congratulated the organizers for conducting a very timely forum. At the institutional level, the resource persons suggested the implementation of a massive information campaign through posters and other communication materials. The public is also advised not to panic and to help contain the contagious disease by being honest if they get sick, and to wear masks. Dr. Turalba warned of a potential shortage of respiratory facilities not only in UHS but in the Los Baños and neighboring communities if more persons get ill.
Alex dela Peña, municipal agricultural officer of Nagcarlan, Laguna, also expressed concern on how unfounded fears about A (H1N1) have led to a slowdown of and losses in the swine industry. Dr. Artemio M. Salazar, CSC-IPB deputy director, also said that the corn, being a major component of feed products, will experience a slowdown as well. Dr. Sevilla said that the misnomer "swine" flu must be corrected because of its negative impact on the swine industry. He also signified the willingness of UPLB experts to talk about the issue in other localities. (SC Seminiano)
Originally posted at UPLB Insider News