Poultry demand dips as people wary of bird flu

Experts say no need to panic as H5N1 spread is localised in Bidar

Poultry demand dips as people wary of bird flu

The demand for poultry dropped slightly in Bengaluru on Monday, a day after thousands of chickens died of bird flu (H5N1) in Bidar district. Chicken eaters are taking precaution and asking sellers where the birds have been sourced from.

M Sheikh, who runs a poultry shop, said people had become cautious, though there was no drastic drop in sales. “People are enquiring about bird flu but we have few answers,” he said.

Nadir A, who works in a chicken store, said there was a slight decline in sales. “The sales are low in summer, but today was unusual,” he said but claimed that he wasn’t aware of bird flu. Bhuvan, a resident, said he would better take precaution. “Even the last time when there was bird flu, I was cautious,” he said.

Doctors and poultry sellers, however, say there is no need to panic. H N Nagabhushan, general secretary, Karnataka Poultry Farmers’ and Breeders’ Association, said the current bird flu was noticed only in a layer poultry (egg production) farm in Humnabad taluk, Bidar, where poultry population was low. According to him, the government has started culling the birds and around 1.5 lakh chickens in one-kilometre radius of the farm would be culled.

Restrictions have been put on the movement of poultry, eggs and other input from the affected areas. Hence, there is no need to panic as the disease is localised, Nagabhushan said, adding that it was “perfectly safe” to consume chicken and egg across Karnataka.

Chickens sold in Bengaluru are sourced from Mysuru and bred on the outskirts of the city. They are not brought from other parts of Karnataka, he said. Poultry farmers have been advised to take appropriate bio-security measures and approach the Animal Husbandry Department for any assistance, he added.

Dr Mahesh P S, director of Central Poultry Development Organisation, said that whenever bird flu was reported, the chickens were being culled as per the standard procedure.

According to him, Indians were less likely to contract the H5N1 virus because of their distinct cooking culture. The virus dies at temperature above 60 degrees Celsius. Since the Indian food is cooked at a higher temperature and is even boiled, the virus likely dies down, he said. Outside of India, chicken and egg are eaten raw or half-cooked, increasing the chances of the virus spread, he added.

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