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European Food Safety Agency Comments on AI Transmission to Humans


The European Food Safety Agency has just completed an assessment of the theoretical probability of transmission of low pathogenicity avian influenza from raw poultry and eggs to humans.

At the outset it is stated that avian influenza is not vertically transmitted and should therefore not pose any danger to consumers of washed eggs. The E.U. has a greater concern because virus may be excreted in feces which may contaminate egg shells which are generally not washed in the E.U.

The assessment stated “There is no evidence that avian influenza can be transmitted to humans through eating contaminated poultry. Thorough cooking of poultry meat will destroy the virus. Epidemiologic evidence suggests infection in humans occurs rarely and only after very close contact with infected animals.”

The report also noted that certain highly-pathogenic avian influenza viruses including H5N1 and H7N9 are associated with human infection. This may relate to inherent susceptibility among patients and high levels of exposure associated with wet markets.

The report concluded that the “probability of infection by low pathogenic avian influenza through eating contaminated raw poultry meat or raw table eggs is negligible.”