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Bird Flu Scare: Is it safe to consume eggs, chicken amidst outbreak? Here's what WHO says

H5N1 is a type of influenza virus that causes “highly infectious, severe respiratory disease in birds called avian influenza”, according to World Health Organisation (WHO).

Shivani Arora

Shivani AroraBy Shivani Arora

Published on 8 Jan 2021 12:15 PM GMT

Bird Flu Scare: Is it safe to consume eggs, chicken amidst outbreak? Heres what WHO says
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As state governments warn about yet another virus outbreak after the sudden culling of 17,326 birds, is it safe to consume chicken or eggs amidst the Bird Flu scare? With cases of unusual poultry deaths being reported in some states. Kerala, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Himachal Pradesh — the Centre has warned about the outbreak of bird flu or Avian influenza, with H5N1 virus found in samples from dead birds.

H5N1 is a type of influenza virus that causes “highly infectious, severe respiratory disease in birds called avian influenza”, according to World Health Organisation (WHO).

“Avian influenza has been confirmed by the National Institute of Security Animal Diseases,” Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan wrote to the respective states.

Bird Flu Scare: Is it safe to consume eggs, chicken amidst outbreak? Here's what WHO recommends

The death of poultry birds due to bird flu raises concerns about whether it would be safe to consume chicken and eggs at this time. In fact, a major drop in poultry prices is being reported in some regions.

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What does WHO say?

WHO says that it is “safe” to eat as long as it is “properly prepared and cooked”. Normal temperatures used for cooking (the food reaches 70 degrees Celsius in all parts) can kill the virus as it is sensitive to heat.

“As a standard precaution, WHO recommends that poultry, poultry products, and wild game birds should always be prepared following good hygienic practices and that poultry meat should be properly cooked,” it adds.

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As for the spread of the infection in humans, cases have mostly been linked to home slaughter. And subsequent handling of diseased or dead birds, prior to cooking. “These practices represent the highest risk of human infection and are the most important to avoid,” WHO advises.

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Recommendations to cook chicken and eggs

In the view of the sudden Bird Flu outbreak, AIIMS institute has suggested some easy steps to follow good hygienic cooking practices of poultry-related items.

One must avoid consumption of runny eggs around the bird flu outbreak. Make sure that the egg yolk is firm and ensure that the egg is fit for consumption.

Cooking meat and eggs of hen or duck must be done at or above 70 degrees Celsius to kill the Avian flu. Make sure that the meat or eggs are properly cooked.

One must wash hands with lukewarm water for at least 20 seconds after handling eggs or poultry while cooking. As Avian flu also spreads from touching contaminated poultry.

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Shivani Arora

Shivani Arora

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