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Bird Flu: DAK says, it is safe to eat poultry

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Slaughtering, defeathering and eviscerating of diseased birds pose a risk to humans

Srinagar/New Delhi:  With several Indian states reporting outbreak of bird flu, Doctors Association Kashmir (DAK) on Wednesday said it is safe to eat properly cooked poultry meat.

“There is no risk to catch the disease from eating poultry or poultry products,” said DAK President and influenza expert Dr Nisar ul Hassan.

“Bird flu is not transmitted through cooked food,” he said.

“To date, there is no evidence that people have become infected after eating contaminated poultry meat that has been properly cooked.”

DAK President said in areas free from the disease, poultry can be prepared and consumed as usual.

“In areas experiencing outbreaks, poultry and poultry products can also be safely consumed provided these items are properly cooked and properly handled,” he added.

“Consumers need to be sure that all parts of the poultry are fully cooked (no “pink” parts) and that eggs, too are properly cooked (no “runny” yolks),” Dr Nisar said adding that “normal temperature used for cooking (70 degree Celsius in all parts of the food) kills the virus.”

“However, slaughtering, defeathering and eviscerating of diseased birds pose a risk to humans,” he said.

“Recently, the samples of dead migratory birds in Himachal Pradesh were tested positive for H5N1and another strain of bird flu H5N8 has been reported in Ducks in two districts of Kerala.”

Dr Nisar said the viruses usually do not infect humans, but there are chances.

“The migratory birds are natural reservoirs of the virus and Kashmir being the favorite destination of migratory birds during winter, the virus can be introduced in the valley through them,” he said.

“Domesticated birds can become infected through migratory birds.”

“Poultry farmers need to be made aware about the sickness to ensure that no diseased bird enters the food chain.

The veterinarians must get activated for active surveillance, stockpile logistics like PPE and Tamiflu and prepare for worst, just in case,” said Dr Nisar.

Meanwhile, Several states on Tuesday sounded an alert to contain the H5N8 strain of bird flu and sent samples for testing while Kerala began culling of chickens and ducks.

Karnataka and Tamil Nadu stepped up surveillance and formed guidelines following the outbreak of the viral infection in neighbouring Kerala, where around 1,700 ducks have died due to the flu.

In Haryana, over four lakh poultry birds have died at farms in Panchkula district in the past 10 days, officials said, adding a team from Jalandhar’s Regional Disease Diagnosis Laboratory has collected samples.

There are no confirmed reports of avian influenza till now, a RDDL spokesperson said.

In Madhya Pradesh, officials said that 155 dead crows in Indore have been found with the H5N8 strain since the pathogen was first detected in the city a week back, while in Rajasthan, after Jhalwar, birds in Kota and Baran were found with the infection.

However, no cases have been reported yet in Maharashtra, which shares borders with Madhya Pradesh.

Officials in Himachal Pradesh surveyed the area around the Pong Dam Lake sanctuary in Kangra district to check the spread of the flu to domestic poultry birds, a day after samples of dead migratory birds there tested positive for H5N8.

Till now, 2,700 migratory birds, mostly bar-headed geese, have been found dead in the lake area and samples have been sent for testing, state animal husbandry officials said.

In Indore, the presence of bird flu was first detected on December 29, when about 50 crows were found dead on the Daly College campus of the Residency area, and tests run on two of the carcasses confirmed the presence of the pathogen.

Madhya Pradesh veterinary department deputy director Pramod Sharma said 155 crows were detected with the H5N8 virus in the Residency area in the last eight days.

The deadly avian influenza has not been found in any other bird species apart from crows in Indore so far, he said.

Jammu and Kashmir sounded an alert and started collecting samples to check the health of winged guests flocking to the Union territory during winters, officials said as neighbouring Himachal Pradesh reported cases of bird flu.

Joint teams of the animal husbandry and wildlife departments on Tuesday visited the Gharana wetland in the outskirts of Jammu and collected 25 bird droppings for testing to ascertain whether any of the birds are infected with the avian influenza, officials said.


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