We’ve a strange story out of the Philippines today, where their DOH has announced the death – and quick cremation – of an Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW) recently returned from a six-year-stint in China who displayed symptoms consistent with bird flu.
This patient’s contacts are being provided prophylactic Tamiflu ®, and remain under surveillance.
Somewhat bizarrely, the DOH never actually confirmed the diagnosis, and opted instead for a quick cremation to `end the threat’. In a press conference today (see Sun-Star report DOH: Philippines still bird flu-free) the acting head secretary of the DOH is quoted as saying:
“The Philippines remains to be bird flu-free. We cannot even consider this case confirmed,” said Acting Health Secretary Janette Garin in a press conference Monday.
The health chief also said they made no more efforts to confirm if the death was indeed caused by Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (H5N1) or bird flu over fears that an autopsy could place others at risk.
“We chose to contain the patient. The body was cremated eventually, hence this case has been declared closed,” she said.
As most of my readers already know, an autopsy isn’t required in order to diagnose H5N1 (or H7N9), and in fact, rarely occurs in Asia or the Middle East due to social and religious reasons. Instead, respiratory tract samples(nasopharyngeal swab, nasal aspirate or wash, or an endotracheal aspirate/ bronchoalveolar lavage) are collected and PCR tested for the virus.
Equally curious is the fact that we are only just now hearing about this now – nine days after this patient died. It worth noting that this case arrived at roughly the same time as another OFW returned from Saudi Arabia with MERS (see Philippines: 10 MERS Contacts Negative – 1 HCW Under Investigation).
Because of its relatively close proximity to Indonesia, Taiwan, and Vietnam, and China – areas where avian flu has hit hard in the past – the Philippines have always been sensitive to any suggestions that bird flu had reached their country.
As this case was never properly tested, and the case is officially closed, for now their coveted `bird flu free’ status remains intact.
February 23, 2015
Last week, we should have people who returned from China. He's six years I worked there, felt the weakness of body and she decided to return to her desire to be with family in feel.
February 9 came the patient. February 10 was the beginning she cough, fever, and occasionally joins the tyan. February 11, consultation but worsen the situation until the unexpected has died last February 14.
Because the symptoms displayed alongside the rapid progression of the disease plus the history of travel from China coupled with a history of being exposed to live poultry, the patient was considered a possible case of Avian Flu or Bird Flu.
This patient was initially referred to as a possible case of MERS. However, upon review of his case profile, Avian Flu was a more proximate consideration.
Prophylaxis of close contacts using Tamiflu has been done. Experts from Hong Kong closely monitored and guided our experts here. Biopsy was done by trained personnel protected by personal protective equipments.
Initial result revealed pulmonary findings but inconclusive. The body was cremated hence this case has been declared 'closed'.
If indeed this patient contracted bird flu, his death has ended other possibility of transmission.