Several states in India, including Himachal Pradesh and Kerala, have sounded an alert to contain the H5N8 strain of bird flu. Thousands of crows, chickens, and ducks have died in past one week in several parts of the country due to bird flu.
States like Punjab, Maharashtra, Karnataka, and Tamil Nadu have informed officials to keep a tab on unusual deaths of migratory birds. Whereas, Kerala began culling chicken and ducks on Tuesday.
Haryana has reported over four lakh poultry deaths in the past 10 days, while in Himachal Pradesh, 2,700 birds were found dead at Pong Dam lake.
So, what exactly is bird flu, what are the symptoms of it, and can one get bird flu from eggs or chicken; here's all you need to know
What is bird flu?
Bird flu is also known as 'Avian influenza' or 'Avian flu'. These flu viruses occur naturally among birds. Bird flu is very contagious among birds and can make some domesticated birds, including chickens and ducks, very sick and kill them.
How does avian flu spread in birds?
Infected birds shed flu virus in their saliva, nasal secretions, and faeces. Susceptible birds become infected when they have contact with contaminated excretions.
Can bird flu happen to humans?
It is believed that most cases of bird flu infection in humans have resulted from contact with infected poultry or contaminated surfaces. There is no evidence of human-to-human transmission so far.
What are the symptoms and signs of avian flu in humans?
Cough, fever, sore throat, muscle aches, pneumonia and other complications.
What is the test for avian flu?
A throat swab is taken from the patient to test for avian flu.
Can you get bird flu from eating poultry eggs?
Since bird flu can spread in poultry so it would be relevant to minimise the risks when it comes to consumption or handling of eggs or meat. As per the World Health Organisation and UN Food and Agriculture Organisation, chicken and poultry are safe to consume if cooked properly. However, one should remember that no birds from flocks with the disease should enter the food chain.
AIIMS institute has suggested to follow good hygienic cooking practices of poultry-related items.
Therefore, cooking an egg when its yolk becomes firm is safe to eat. One should avoid consuming runny eggs amid the bird flu outbreak.
Cooking chicken eggs be it of hen or duck should be done at or above 70 degrees Celsius to kill the H5N1 flu.
One should wash hands with lukewarm water for at least 20 seconds after handling eggs or poultry while cooking.
Is there a vaccine for humans against avian flu?
There is no vaccine for humans against bird flu. The vaccine against human influenza virus does not protect against avian flu.