Is bird flu transmitted by eating?
You might not have to give up that chicken soup after all. Not just yet. The omelette neither. But it may still be a better idea to have it in a restaurant rather than cook the stuff at home. Amid Widespread speculation and the knee-jerk panic reaction of giving up the
table-bird altogether, doctors say that the prognosis of the “epidemic” is yet to suggest that the disease, bird flu, can be transmitted through ingestion of infected poultry products. In fact, the person who is handling the raw bird or cooking it, is more at risk than the person eating it.
“Both the H5N1 and H5N2 strains of the disease that have so far been detected, are transmitted via the respiratory route, and only from the bird to the human. All this brouhaha about whether chicken and eggs are safe is needless.” said Dr Chand
Wattal, micnobiologist, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital. He added that even though WHO has recommended precautions against the possible mutation of the virus into a form that is transmitted from human to human, such a strain has not been detected yet.
“A person is exposed to the disease only if he visits a poultry farm or maybe the market where he is liable to come into contact with infected birds, or blood and bird droppings.” explained Wattal. “Theme is no proof till now that consumption of chickeh/eggs can lead to the disease. The risk is more for poultry hands. In fact, the known cases of human infection are among them.
The only way out is to kill all infected birds, as was done in Hong Kong in 1997.” said professor of medicine at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Dr Anoop Misra. But, Misra was quick to point out: “This is is the unfolding of a new disease. There may still
be a lot of things about it that we do not know.” Besides, he said, studies so far have shown that the virus can remain alive for fairly long periods even when frozen.