The two persons from San Luis, Pampanga, who showed signs of avian flu symptoms tested negative for the virus, according to Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial when interviewed at the Crowne Plaza Hotel.

The Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) conducted the tests, results of which were released after 48 hours.

Both patients worked closely at the farm site where the chickens exposed to avian flu were housed.

One had fever, the other was coughing, both flu-like symptoms.

Fowl from the farm were also tested by the RITM, but results will take longer to be released.

The Department of Agriculture (DA) previously announced an outbreak of avian flu in San Luis, Pampanga, where it said an estimated around 500,000 birds would have to be culled.

Birds within a 1 kilometre radius from the contained area are required to be culled to prevent the spread.

Previously in a separate interview at the DOH Central Office, Assistant Secretary Eric Tayag said that there were two human “suspect” cases, but did not disclose their identities or the hospital where they were taken to.

He categorized them as those working or near the farm where the virus was found, and could either be farmers or handlers. Officials initially interviewed 20 individuals from different farms, and two showed flu-like symptoms and were subsequently put in isolation.

Dr Tayag said those exposed include those who live in the area where an ongoing outbreak is taking place, those who touched the animals - whether sick or not, and those working to clean the area.

Workers involved in culling activities were given prophylaxis which serve as both preventive measure and treatment.

The health official emphasized that transmission to humans is “with great difficulty.”

Secretary Ubial said the strategy will be quarantine and heightened surveillance for human cases. MIMS