While it is better to avoid eating poultry products, like chicken and eggs, amid the Bird Flu, it is not totally unsafe to consume with some precautions in place.
The covid-19 pandemic has not yet subsided and the bird flu, or Avian Influenza, seems to have started spreading it’s wings around, with cases being confirmed every other day. People, especially meat eaters are riddled with the question – Can chicken and eggs be consumed amid the bird flu?
In India, around 10 states have confirmed cases of Avian Influenza or Bird Flu and in while some of them have put poultry farms, live bird markets, meat markets, and zoos under strict surveillance.
Amid all that’s transpiring around, people are overwhelmed with this new possible pandemic and the rumour mill has already been set in motion. The poultry industry has already started to feel the pinch with panic setting in among those who consume chicken and eggs on a daily basis.
The panic stems from the fact that Bird Flu, though primarily an affliction of the birds, can also spread to humans when in contact with infected birds.
Here are some clarifications on Bird Flu or Avaian Influenza (as per WHO and other health experts around the globe)
What is Bird Flu?
As per the World Health Organisation (WHO), bird flu is an avian influenza virus, with many different types but the most common ones as being the H5N1 and H7N9 bird flu viruses, mostly found in wild birds. Surprisingly, even though wild birds don’t get sick even when infected with the virus they can pass on the infection to other birds, especially poultry.
What all birds (poultry) can get infected with Bird Flu?
Poultry, like chickens, ducks, and turkeys can get infected with bird flu and spread the virus to other such birds quickly. Birds infected with the flu can get very sick and hence are better not to be consumed.
Does Bird Flu spread from birds to humans?
Although it is not very common for humans to get infected with bird flu, many people in Asian countries still get seriously infected when coming in contact with poultry (birds raised on farms) infected with the flu, especially on consumption of raw meat or under-cooked meat.
What causes the Bird Flu?
Bird flu is caused by any of the most common avian influenza viruses and spreads from infected wild birds to poultry (farm-raised birds).
How fast does the Bird Flu spread?
Once an infected wild bird passes on the infection to a poultry bird or birds, the infection spreads very quickly infecting hundreds of thousands of birds that are stocked together at poultry farms.
How are birds infected with Bird Flu cured?
There is no other option than culling (killing) birds infected with bird flu to stop the infection from spreading further.
Through what medium does the Bird Flu spread?
Bird flu can spread through bird droppings and saliva left on the surfaces of cages, feeding trays, farm equipment and transportation vehicles like tractors etc.
Should people be worried about the Bird Flu?
In some cases in the past, bird flu has been recorded to have passed from one person to another person, although very rarely. People can get very sick with the bird flu virus and the mortality has been more than 50% of all the people who had been infected in the past.
The cause of concern is that the bird flu differs from other flu viruses and hence human bodies have zero immunity against it, making it difficult to fight it off. Even very healthy people can get terribly sick with bird flu.
What are the symptoms of Bird flu?
The symptoms of bird flu begin are like those of common flu, like:
- Sore throat.
- Muscle aches.
- Vomiting, Diarrhea and Eye infection (conjunctivitis) in some cases.
Bird Flu symptoms can get worse in humans if left untreated
Once infected, humans need to undergo treatment for bird flu or else it can progress to pneumonia and acute respiratory distress syndrome, which is a serious lung problem.
People who die from bird flu dies within 10 days from the onset of the symptoms.
What is the diagnosis of Bird Flu?
Bird flu can be diagnosis by physical examination by a doctor, which includes blood tests, nasal swabs, x-rays or other tests as required.
Who is in danger of getting infected with Bird Flu?
Following people have higher changes of getting infected with bird flu:
- People who have travelled to areas where bird flu is rampant, visited poultry farms, or have come in contact with live, sick or dead poultry or wild birds.
- Those people who consume raw or under-cooked poultry meat or eggs, especially in Asian countries.
- People who get in close contact with those infected with bird flu or other respiratory diseases.
- Poultry farm workers tending to chickens, ducks or turkey on a day to day basis.
- Laboratory workers who are in close contact with birds infected or dead with bird flu.
How is Bird Flu treated?
In some cases of bird flu, antiviral medicines can help reduce symptoms although many such medicines are not fully effective against bird flu.
Patients with bird flu infection are kept in isolation to stop the virus from spreading and some may even be kept on ventilators to ease breathing.
In some cases, patients are even kept on dialysis to help take off the load from their kidneys.
How can bird flu be prevented from spreading?
As per health organisatios all poultry needs to be checked for bird flu infection and in cases where they are found to be infected, all such birds should be culled, or killed.
To be precise, the most feasible strategy worldwide to prevent the spread of bird flu is the culling of such birds and not letting them reach the markets and households.
How to safely eat chicken and other poultry products amid Bird Flu?
To be precise, thoroughly cooked meat, at or over 70 degree celcius, kills any form of virus. In Indian homes and other countries where food is cooked at high temperatures and not consumed in raw or under-cooked form, the chances of getting infected by eating an infected bird are next to none.
So cook your chicken or eggs thoroughly to nullify the chances of getting infected by Bird Flu.
However one thing has to be noted that although eating properly cooked poultry will kill the virus, it can still infect while handling buying and handling raw meat at the meat market.
Precautions to be taken against Bird Flu?
Bird flu can be prevented by taking the following precautions:
- Avoid travelling to countries or areas with bird flu infections and active case. If travelling, take a flu shot to avoid getting any other fl.
- Avoid visiting poultry farms, processing units, or poultry – chicken, ducks and turkeys
- Stay away from open-air live bird markets.
- Don’t eat poultry based dishes at restaurants or roadside stalls, especially in Asian countries as they can be raw or under-cooked
- Cook meat thoroughly as the virus cannot survive at temperatures of, or above, 70-degree celsius.
- Don’t come in close contact with people infected with the bird flu or any other type of flu.
- Wash your hands regularly with soap and warm water or with alcohol based hand gels.
During the ongoing covid-19 pandemic, precaution is the best measure against the spread of both covid-19 and bird flu.
Last Updated on February 3, 2021 by lp@admin