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Avian influenza not a risk in properly cooked poultry

Fast Facts:

    • Proper cooking of poultry destroys avian influenza virus
    • Poultry should always be cooked to an internal temp of 165 degrees
    • Basic hygiene can prevent contraction, spread of bird flu

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FAYETTEVILLE, Ark.  –  There is no danger of contracting the current strain of avian influenza from eating properly cooked chicken because heat destroys pathogens.

“This is not a food-borne disease – period,” said John Marcy, extension poultry processing specialist with the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture. “When poultry – whether chicken or turkey or other bird -- is cooked properly, the virus is easily destroyed by the heat.”

Marcy said human infections from this strain of avian influenza were due to direct contact with sick birds and their fluids.

Earlier this week, the United States Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service has confirmed the presence of highly pathogenic H5N2 avian influenza in a commercial turkey flock in Boone County. The turkey flock is located within the Mississippi flyway where this strain of avian influenza has previously been identified.

“To date, this strain of bird flu has not been shown to cause any illness in humans,” said Dr. Dirk Haselow, State Epidemiologist at the Arkansas Department of Health.  “There is no risk to the public and there are no food safety concerns.  No one is ill and turkeys from this farm are not entering the food supply.”

“Because influenza viruses can evolve rapidly, and in the past other avian influenza viruses have evolved to infect other species including people, we believe the potential for human illness is tiny, but not zero.  As a precaution, we are monitoring exposed workers at the involved farm for any signs of illness,” Haselow added,  “but viruses like these have not spread person to person so what limited risk does exist is limited to the farm.”

Information on biosecurity tactics are available in English and Spanish at

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By The Cooperative Extension Service
U of A System Division of Agriculture

Media Contact: Mary Hightower
Dir. of Communication Services
U of A Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service
(501) 671-2126

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