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Bird flu: What happens if you consume an infected chicken?


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With the virus being detected across 155 sites so far, and 47.5m birds being culled since last autumn, the UK continues to be affected by one of the worst avian flu outbreaks in its history.

According to the National Farmers’ Union (NFU), avian flu H5N1 has been confirmed in captive birds, poultry, and wild birds in England, Wales, and Scotland.

Amidst mounting worries over the impact on livestock and also Christmas turkey supplies among farmers, here’s what you need to know about how avian flu spreads and whether you can contract the virus by eating an infected chicken that you may have cooked.

Though flu outbreaks in the previous years improved with the weather getting warmer, this time, the spread has continued throughout the summer, leading to fears of highly pathogenic variants of the disease.

The avian flu virus is sensitive to heat and cooking it thoroughly will reportedly kill the virus. It’s been found that if all parts of the food reach 70 degrees Celsius, the virus will be killed, the Mirror informs.

Additionally, The WHO guidelines clearly state that it’s safe to eat well-cooked poultry and birds, even if they were infected by avian flu – as long as you ensure your chicken and eggs are washed and cooked well before eating them, there is no risk of the bird flu spreading to you. Use heat up to 70 to 80 degrees Celsius.

Also, to be on the safe side, it’s important to buy your chicken and eggs from a trusted vendor.

Experts warn that the symptoms of avian flu tend to come on quickly, and the first signs usually appear within three to five days of being exposed to the virus.

According to the NHS, bird flu can spread by close contact with an infected bird, whether dead or alive.

This includes the following:

• touching infected birds

• touching droppings or bedding

• killing or preparing infected poultry for cooking

Main symptoms of bird flu in humans according to the NHS:

• very high temperature or feeling hot or getting chills

• headache

• aching muscles

• a cough or shortness of breath

Some of the other early symptoms may include the following:

• stomach pain

• diarrhoea

• sickness

• chest pain

• bleeding from the nose and gums

• conjunctivitis.


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