| FYI: Health
Bird Flu (Avian influenza)
Will bird flu cause the next influenza pandemic?
Avian influenza (bird flu) is a disease of wild and farm birds caused by influenza viruses. Bird flu viruses do not usually infect humans, but since 1997 there have been a number of confirmed cases of human infection from bird flu viruses. Most of these resulted from direct or close contact with infected birds (e.g., domesticated chickens, ducks, and turkeys). The spread of bird flu viruses from an infected person to another person has been reported very rarely and has not been reported to continue beyond one person. A worldwide pandemic could occur if a bird flu virus were to change so that it could easily be passed from person to person. Experts around the world are watching for changes in bird flu viruses that could lead to an influenza pandemic.
Is it safe to eat poultry?
Yes, it is safe to eat properly cooked poultry. Cooking destroys germs, including the bird flu virus. The United States bans imports of poultry and poultry products from countries where bird flu has been found. Guidelines for the safe preparation of poultry include the following: Wash hands before and after handling food. Keep raw poultry and its juices away from other foods. Keep hands, utensils, and surfaces, such as cutting boards, clean. Use a food thermometer to ensure poultry has been fully cooked. For example, cook a whole chicken to 180°F in an oven set to a minimum of 325°F. More information on how to properly cook poultry can be found at www.usda.gov/birdflu.
What types of birds can carry bird flu viruses?
Wild birds can carry bird flu viruses but usually do not get sick from them. Domesticated birds (e.g., farm-raised chickens, ducks, and turkeys) can become sick with bird flu if they come into contact with an infected wild bird. Domesticated birds usually die from the disease.
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