Israel’s Bird Flu Could Spread To Humans, Health Officials Warn To Cook Eggs Thoroughly

Removing the carcasses of migratory cranes killed by bird flu at the Hula Lake Nature Reserve in northern Israel, December 27. (Hadas Kahaner, Israel Nature and Parks Authority)

As Israel grapples with its worst avian flu outbreak ever, health experts are warning citizens to take precautions amid fears the flu could spread to humans.

The Health Ministry warned consumers to avoid contact with sick or injured birds, purchase their chicken and eggs from regulated stores, ensure products have inspection stamps, and ” thoroughly cook eggs and chicken, maintain hygiene and wash hands after contact with meat or eggs.”

Experts fear that the bird flu outbreak could spread to humans, Times of Israel (TOI) reported on Wednesday.

“The widespread nature of the avian flu is very concerning, especially given that it is infecting chickens and not just wild birds. It’s made the move from wildlife to stock animals, and I’m hoping it won’t make the next step to humans,” Prof. Amnon Lahad, chairman of Israel’s National Council for Community Health, told TOI.

Although most bird flu strains don’t infect humans, there are four that do and since little is known about the current strain, the possibility of a jump to humans cannot be discounted, Lahad said.

However, Lahad added that humans are “highly unlikely” to catch bird flu from eating infected chicken or eggs that come from an infected bird because the flu, like COVID, almost always enters the body through the respiratory tract, not the gut.

But Lahad warned that “it could be transmitted through contact with sick birds — not from touching or eating them, but rather through the same method we know from COVID, namely droplets passing into the respiratory system.”

The Agriculture Ministry has culled about 700,000 birds in the past few weeks to reduce the chances of the flu’s transmission to humans.

(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)