Fact Check: Eating Chicken Does NOT Causes Herpes Infections In Humans

Fact Check

  • by: Alexis Tereszcuk
Fact Check: Eating Chicken Does NOT Causes Herpes Infections In Humans Fowl Fallacy

Can a person get infected with the herpes simplex virus by eating chicken? No, that's not true: Herpes is a virus contracted by direct skin-to-skin contact, not from eating poultry. A chicken herpes virus called Marek's disease does affect chickens but it does not affect humans.

The claim appeared as a video (archived here) where it was published on Facebook on March 26, 2023, under the title "Herpes From Chickens?!" It opened:

Hold on. If this was a sex'ly transmitted disease then how did the first person get it? And what about the cases of herpes that come from eating chickens?

This is what the post looked like on Facebook at the time of writing:

image - 2023-04-05T111042.679.png

(Source: Facebook screenshot taken on Wed Apr 5 17:41:12 2023 UTC)

A longer version of the video was originally posted on Facebook by Yah'ki Hickman, who is a prolific purveyor of questionable claims especially about diet and nutrition. Lead Stories previously fact checked his claim, here, that radiation and chemotherapy cause cancer.

The December 2022 video posted here shows Hickman answering questions posted on social media. He is responding to a question about candida at 1:30:34 in the video and goes off on a tangent about chickens and herpes. He posits the question but does not provide any proof or evidence that eating chickens causes the herpes virus in humans.

The American Sexual Health Association explains on their website how the herpes simplex virus (HSV) is contracted:

How does someone get herpes?
Herpes is transmitted through direct skin-to-skin contact. This happens when a contagious area comes into contact with a tiny break in the skin or mucous membrane tissue, usually on the mouth or genitals. Most skin on the body is too thick for the virus to go through.
Oral herpes (around the mouth, sometimes called cold sores or fever blisters) can be passed on through kissing or oral sex. If a person with oral herpes performs oral sex, it is possible to pass along the infection to the partner's genitals. If a person with genital herpes has sex, it is possible for his or her partner to get genital herpes. Any person who is sexually active can get genital herpes.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) notes the symptoms and ways herpes can be contracted as well as noting it cannot be contracted by touching non-human surfaces:

HSV-1 often causes oral herpes, which can result in cold sores or fever blisters on or around the mouth. However, most people with oral herpes do not have any symptoms. Most people with oral herpes get it during childhood or young adulthood from non-sexual contact with saliva.
You can get genital herpes by having vaginal, anal, or oral sex with someone who has the infection.

You can get herpes if you have contact with:
A herpes sore;
Saliva from a partner with an oral herpes infection;
Genital fluids from a partner with a genital herpes infection;
Skin in the oral area of a partner with oral herpes; or
Skin in the genital area of a partner with genital herpes.
You also can get genital herpes from a sex partner who does not have a visible sore or is unaware of their infection. It is also possible to get genital herpes if you receive oral sex from a partner with oral herpes.
You will not get herpes from toilet seats, bedding, or swimming pools. You also will not get it from touching objects, such as silverware, soap, or towels.

Pennsylvania State University published an article titled, "Marek's Disease in Chickens," in February 2023. It stated Marek's Disease, "affects chickens and is caused by a chicken herpes virus. It will not make people sick."

Mississippi State University also stated that humans cannot contract Marek's disease from chickens:

Marek's disease is not a risk to humans or other mammals. Eggs and meat from infected chickens are not affected by the disease and are safe to eat. However, if a chicken was infected with the cutaneous form of Marek's, it may have skin and/or internal tumors that can be unsightly.

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  Alexis Tereszcuk

Alexis Tereszcuk is a writer and fact checker at Lead Stories and an award-winning journalist who spent over a decade breaking hard news and celebrity scoop with RadarOnline and Us Weekly.

As the Entertainment Editor, she investigated Hollywood stories and conducted interviews with A-list celebrities and reality stars.  

Alexis’ crime reporting earned her spots as a contributor on the Nancy Grace show, CNN, Fox News and Entertainment Tonight, among others.

Read more about or contact Alexis Tereszcuk

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