To meet challenges, district monitoring committees constituted: Officials
Safe to eat properly cooked meat, people associated with poultry need to take precautions: Experts
As Himachal Pradesh reports cases of bird flu, Jammu and Kashmir has sounded an alert and started collecting samples to check the health of the birds flocking in the Union territory during winters, officials said.
An official said that the J&K government has sounded an alert following reports of bird flu cases in Himachal Pradesh and monitoring committees have been constituted to keep a vigil.
Official said that the animal husbandry and wildlife department have taken samples of birds to check whether any bird is infected with the dreaded avian influenza.
Dr Nisar Ul Hassan, flu expert and president of Doctors Association of Kashmir (DAK) said that there are two strains of bird flu namely H5N1 and H5N8 and both are confined to birds.
“However, with H5N1 there have been human cases also reported but human to human transmission hasn’t been seen as of now and this virus doesn’t get transmitted through cooked meat,” he said.
Hassan said that it is safe to eat properly cooked poultry meat, adding that there is no risk to catch the disease from eating chicken or other poultry products.
“There is no threat of bird flu transmission to humans by way of eating poultry. There is no evidence that people have become infected after eating contaminated poultry meat that has been properly cooked,” he said.
However, Hassan said that one needs to make sure that the meat is not raw, uncooked or partially cooked as the cooking of poultry at or above 70-degree centigrade kills the virus.
“But slaughtering, de-feathering and eviscerating of diseased birds pose a risk to humans,” he said, adding that people dealing with such things must take precautions so as to avoid any contraction of the virus.
It is suspected that migratory birds that are natural reservoirs of the virus might have brought the virus.
“Kashmir being the favourite destination of migratory birds during winter, the virus can be introduced in the valley through them,” Hassan said. “Poultry farmers need to be made aware of the sickness to ensure that no diseased bird enters the food chain.”
Meanwhile, Suhail Naik, President of other Doctors Association of Kashmir (DAK) said that people must avoid using poultry products for some time.
“Cooking can kill virus but the product– doesn’t come directly to our kitchen, first we slaughter, defeather chicken and at that time people can contract this virus,” Naik said.
However, he also said that this flu can transmit from one person to other and it will be very difficult to break the chain once this flu breaks out.
Naik further added that bird flu or avian flu viruses can infect domestic poultry and other birds and can jump to animal species.
The disease is “zoonotic” and transmission of the virus to humans can prove disastrous.
“The bird flu may come as a double whammy for us as we are already fighting a long drawn battle against Covid 19 pandemic,” he said.
“People are advised not to eat raw poultry parts and or raw eggs. Though cooking poultry meat thoroughly at temperatures more than 70 degree centigrade will inactivate the virus, it is better to avoid poultry and its products till flu is eliminated in birds,” he said.
Meanwhile officials said that there are no reports of an outbreak of Avian Influenza (Bird flu) in the valley till now.
“To monitor the situation and to effectively meet any arising challenges district monitoring committees under supervision of chief animal husbandry officers of all districts with poultry development officers have been constituted,” they said.
“Rapid Response Teams as per GoI guidelines are also being established besides issuing advisory to common public and farmers,” they added.