Is It Safe To Eat Chicken & Eggs? All Your Questions About Bird Flu Answered

In the past month, lakhs of birds have tested positive for bird flu with cases in 10 states across the country. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), H5N1 is a type of influenza that causes a highly infectious and severe respiratory disease in birds called avian. Here are a few questions people have been asking since the first cases of bird flu came into light:

Can bird flu transmit to humans? And if so, how does that happen?

Doctors have said that the risk of human-to-human transmission of the H5N1 virus that causes the bird flu, is very rare. It only ever happens if one works in proximity with the infected species of birds, having direct contact with infected poultry or contaminated surfaces (saliva, nasal secretions, and feces)

People who work closely with poultry are at high risk of getting the infection. Otherwise, human to human transmission of the H5N1 virus is very rare. Hence there is no need to panic. 

                    – Dr Harshal R. Salve, Associate Professor at Centre for Community Medicine, AIIMS


You should also wear a mask and frequently wash your hands if you’re dealing with birds and poultry.

Is it safe to eat chicken, duck and eggs?

Well, WHO says that it is safe to eat chicken, duck and eggs as long as they are cooked properly and throughly. No pink spots or runny yolks should be eaten. The poultry products should be cooked on gas and shouldn’t be microwaved as microwaving doesn’t often kill the virus.

What precautions can be taken while handling chicken and eggs?

AIIMS suggests that after handling poultry and eggs, one should wash hands and other exposed parts with soap and water. In addition to this, if chicken droppings are spotted on the eggs, then it is likely that the eggs were laid several hours ago. In that case, the likelihood of infection is low, even if the droppings were carrying the avian flu virus. The avian flu virus is destroyed by drying, and exposure to sunlight for a few hours.

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