BENGALURU: With rumours doing the rounds that coronavirus — COVID-19 — spreads through consumption of chicken, eggs and other such livestock, Central and state authorities have clarified that it is safe to eat poultry and poultry products. They said that only the initial source of COVID-19 transmission to humans is from wildlife (pangolin and bats) and not through consumption of livestock. The predominant route of COVID-19 is more likely to be human to human and not poultry as the prevailing scare makes it out to be. Even earlier coronavirus outbreaks, like SARS and MERS, had no involvement of poultry products, authorities stressed.
In a communiqué to the Poultry Federation of India, Dr Praveen Malik, Animal Husbandry Commissioner, Department of Animal Husbandry and Dairying, Ministry of Agriculture, said consumption of chicken and other livestock is safe. “Although there is suspicion that the initial introduction of COVID-19 to humans may be from an animal source, the predominant route of subsequent transmission appears to be from human to human. This is as per the World Organization of Animal Health. Further, ongoing investigations are important for identifying the animal source and establishing the potential role of an animal reservoir in this disease.
“Poultry has not been found to be involved in transmission of COVID-19 to humans so far in any report globally. SARS of 2002-03 or MERS of 2012-13 or corona-associated common cold had no involvement of poultry products. With the present knowledge of COVID-19, the consumption of poultry may be considered safe. However, general principles of hygiene as given by World Health Organisation (WHO)/OIE may be followed,” it said.
Prof G Devegowda from the Institution of Veterinarians of Poultry Industry said that no scientific research in India or globally has linked COVID-19 with consumption of chicken. “Some social platforms are spreading the message that people will be infected with Coronavirus by eating chicken, eggs and meat. It should not be believed as this will affect the consumption of poultry products, which are nutritious and necessary for Indians,” he said.
Precautions In accordance
with WHO, as a general precaution, when visiting live animal markets, wet markets or animal product markets, general hygiene should be followed:
Wash hands with soap and potable water after touching animals and animal products.
Avoid touchingeyes, nose or mouth with hands.
Avoid contact with sick animals or spoilt animal products.
Avoid any contact with animals living in the market (stray cats and dogs, rodents, birds and bats).
Avoid contact with potentially contaminated animal waste or fluids.
Bird Flu outbreak
After a Bird Flu outbreak in Chhattisgarh (Baikunthpur) and Odisha (Odisha University of Agriculture & Technology Farm), authorities took swift action and culled thousands of birds. However, there have been no H5N1 cases among humans. Dr Prayag H S, Chief Veterinary Officer and Asst Prof (KFASU), said, “H5N1 is a type of virus that causes a highly infectious, severe respiratory disease in birds called avian influenza. But this does not infect humans easily as the spread from person to person appears to be unusual. However, it continues to be a threat for the poultry industry. But good animal health practices can help control it. We do have molecular diagnostics BS IV Lab and surveillance measures in our country. However, it is challenging to restrict movement of migratory wild birds,” he said.