Residents’ caution in the wake of bird flu cases across the country has started reflecting in sale of poultry products in the city.
While no unusual bird deaths have been reported in the state so far, over 4.37 lakh poultry birds have died in the Barwala belt of neighbouring Haryana – home to Asia’s second largest poultry belt. Avian influenza was confirmed in five samples collected from the belt on Friday, and culling of birds at five poultry farms that house over 1.66 lakh birds will follow.
Even though as per the World Health Organization (WHO), there is no evidence that the disease can be spread to people through properly prepared and cooked poultry food, in Ludhiana, poultry traders say clearly fewer customers were turning up to buy raw chicken and eggs, severely impacting their business.
“The poultry sector suffered majorly during the lockdown, but things had started returning back to track, as weddings and other late night events started taking place after lifting of restrictions. However, now the bird flu scare has hit the industry again,” said Bhupinder Singh, president of Punjab Poultry Wholesale association.
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With lower demand for poultry products, raw chicken, which was being sold for Rs 95 per kg a few days back, is now being sold at Rs 55, say traders, while the rate of 100 eggs has also reduced from Rs 572 to Rs 470 in the past few days.
“Every time there is news regarding bird flu, the demand decreases, which reflects in lower prices. Even after the government has announced that there is no case of bird flu in the state, people are refraining from purchasing chicken and sales at the meat shops have reduced by around 50% in the last few days,” said Sanjeev Kumar of the Ludhiana Non-Veg Shopkeepers Association.
‘Cooked food safe to eat’
There are many strains of the bird flu virus and most of them are mild and may only cause low egg production or other mild symptoms among birds. However, some are severe and cause deaths of large number of birds.
Generally, people coming in close contact with infected alive or dead birds contract the flu, and it does not usually spread from person to person, according to the World Health Organization, which also says that as the virus is sensitive to heat, consumers can safely have properly cooked poultry food.
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