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Impact of COVID-19 on Poultry sector

False Propaganda linking Poultry with COVID-19

COVID-19 has made a significant impact on the Indian Poultry sector much before the actual disease gained momentum in spread among humans. The spread of false propaganda in social media, linking COVID-19 and poultry has made the public to stay away from egg and chicken. It took some time for the relevant Government Authorities and the stakeholders in the poultry industry to use the same social media platform to clarify that COVID-19 does not spread through poultry. In fact, consumption of eggs and chicken helps to improve immunity and fight infections. The WHO advised the public to eat eggs and poultry meat along with other food items for health and a stronger immune system to fight infections. Awareness on the facts improved consumption of eggs and chicken among the people.

Corona Virus and Poultry - Facts:

Coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses known since 1968. Coronaviruses are divided into Alpha-, Beta-, Gamma- and Delta- coronavirus groups. Members of Beta-corona virus group cause illness in humans ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV). The most recently discovered coronavirus causes coronavirus disease COVID-19 and belongs to the Beta-corona virus group. Gamma-Corona virus group causes Infectious Bronchitis in poultry. Avian viruses in the Gamma-coronavirus group do not infect or cause disease in humans.

While poultry is not the host for COVID-19, care should be taken to avoid contamination in the handling/processing chain of poultry food products like egg and chicken, when handled by people who are infected with COVID-19 or who are not following good hygiene practices. For this reason, it is important to emphasize the need to implement robust hygiene practices to protect poultry products from contamination from COVID-19.

It is important for all employers to plan now for COVID-19, to reduce the chances of COVID-19 spread among personnel working at different levels in poultry business. Major poultry business activities, like feed production, hatchery, farming and marketing are included in the advisory. This guidance is intended for awareness and planning purposes. Farmers should use this planning guide to help identify potential risk levels in different operations and to determine any appropriate control measures to implement.