“High alert: Chicken infected from corona virus found in Bangalore today, kindly circulate the message and avoid consumption of chicken. Spread to your dear ones,” reads the latest forward message circulating in WhatsApp groups in Bengaluru.
This message is not true.
“From a scientific and medical point of view, whether it is in India or elsewhere, the virus doesn’t spread from chicken. Please do not forward or share such messages,” stated Dr G Devegowda,President, Institution of Veterinarians of Poultry Industry.
He stressed that spreading such news only resulted in more fear mongering and panic spreading.
Speaking to TNM, Bengaluru District Health Officer (DHO) reiterated that the virus is spread via air droplets from infected individuals or carriers (who are infected with the virus but do not show any symptoms of being unwell themselves).
Several such fake advisories and warnings have been shared on WhatsApp and circulated on social media extensively since the coronavirus outbreak started. A similar message that was circulated was debunked after officials from the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) issued a statement.
“For the past few days we have seen fake messages/posts on social media claiming that broiler chickens are spreading coronavirus are getting viral. As such there is no scientific evidence to back this claim,” reads the statement which has been signed by Dr P Venkateshwar Reddy Chief Veterinary Officer of GHMC.
The coronavirus outbreak began in China’s Wuhan city, located in Hubei province. Over 40,000 individuals are reportedly infected with over 800 deaths having occurred in China alone. India has reported three positive cases from Kerala, with one individual no longer showing the virus in the lab samples.
The virus belongs to the same family of viruses which caused the 2003 SARS outbreak and the sporadic outbreak of MERS in 2012.
The WHO has recommended that individuals follow stringent hand hygiene measures and wash hands frequently with soap and water.