Can people catch Avian Influenza from their poultry?

Avian Influenza has the potential to infect people. Currently, according to the FDA, a person would need to have

extensive direct contact with infected birds in order to catch it. So keep your hands away from your face, and wash your hands thoroughly after handling poultry and especially after contact with fecal matter. Use warm water and soap.

Eggs can carry Avian Influenza, but this would be a very rare circumstance as most hens with Avian Influenza stop laying eggs as one of the very first symptoms of the disease. Any eggs laid are usually misshapen and weak shelled.

Proper cooking and preparation of eggs will prevent Avian Influenza just as it would Salmonella. All of the regular recommended practices for prevention of any foodborne pathogen in eggs would also prevent Avian Influenza.

Here are the FDA’s recommendations for egg handling and cooking as a reminder:

  • Thoroughly wash your hands with soap and warm water for 20-30 seconds after handling eggs from your coop or raw eggs in general.
  • Thoroughly wash with hot water and soap any cooking utensils like silverware, cutting boards, bowls, etc. that have been in contact with raw eggs.
  • When cooking eggs, make sure that the whites and yolks are both firm.
  • Recipes containing eggs should be cooked to an internal temperature of 160 degrees F.

Also be aware of what you do with your egg basket when you come in from the coop. Don’t put it someplace where it can come into contact with other food like a head of lettuce. There is usually some fecal matter on the egg shells even if your eggs look clean and you keep your nest boxes fresh. Be sure to clean the spot on your counter where you put your egg basket with an antibacterial spray or soap and hot water.