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Amid bird flu scare, Kashmir doctor group says safe to ‘eat properly cooked poultry’

With several Indian states reporting outbreak of bird flu and the administrators issuing alert in Indian-administered Kashmir, an apex body of local doctors said on Wednesday that ‘it is safe to eat properly cooked poultry meat’.

“There is no risk to catch the disease from eating poultry or poultry products,” said Doctors Association of Kashmir President Nisar ul Hassan.

“Bird flu is not transmitted through cooked food,” Hassan who is an influenza expert said. 

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

Dr Hassan 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),” the doctor said adding that “normal temperature used for cooking (70 degree Celsius in all parts of the food) kills the virus.”

“However, slaughtering, feathering 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 Hassan 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.

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