What You Should Know About Bird Flu And Its Precautions
Back in 2004, an outbreak of the highly contagious bird flu swept across farms and backyard flocks flooding headlines. And this year, it's happening again, jumping to 46.8% compared to over a year ago.
Here is what we know about the bird flu.
Like humans and other animals, birds sometimes get sick. And sometimes they even have their pandemics. For birds, domestic and wild, this flu is called avian influenza. It spreads via nasal secretions, saliva and faecal droppings, which experts say makes it difficult to contain.
The virus Eurasian H5N1 has been spreading through Europe, Asia and North America, getting the world's attention.
Should humans be worried about being infected?
Historically, the bird flu virus hasn’t been very good at infecting humans. The risks to humans are considered low, however, has a very high fatality rate when affected.
"The risk to humans is very low," said Dr Jennifer Ashton, chief health and medical editor at ABC News.
Since 2003, only 865 humans have been infected with the virus. However, over half of these cases were fatal, and there is no guarantee that things won’t change because of the natural mutation stages of viruses that may one day become a big problem.
“Humans can get this virus, but it’s been pretty rare and can be fatal when contacted,” Dr Jennifer said.
Is it safe to eat poultry and eggs?
Yes, according to the US Department of Agriculture, which has said that properly prepared and cooked poultry and eggs should not pose a risk to consumers.
Since January 2022, the USDA estimates that over 47 million birds have been infected with it, just in the US. For a better perspective, this is the entire human population of Spain. And whenever there is a breakout, experts contain the spread of the virus through one of the processes called ventilation shutdown, VSD.
The chance of infected poultry entering the food chain is “extremely low,” the agency has said. The Food Safety and Inspection Service, part of the USDA, is responsible for inspecting all poultry sold in interstate and foreign commerce.
What precautionary measures do we need to curb the spread of the virus when consuming birds?
Cook the whole chicken to a safe minimum internal temperature of 165°F as measured with a food thermometer. Check the internal temperature in the innermost part of the thigh and wing and the thickest part of the breast.
For reasons of personal preference, consumers may choose to cook poultry at higher temperatures.
Still, the USDA. Recommends cooking poultry to an internal temperature of 165 Fahrenheit to reduce the potential for foodborne illness.