H5N1 confirmed in France

Saturday, February 18, 2006

The strain of bird flu lethal to humans, H5N1, has been confirmed to have infected a dead wild duck, found on Monday, in marshland near Lyon in the east of France. France is the seventh country in the European Union to suffer this virus; following Austria, Germany, Slovenia, Bulgaria, Greece and Italy. Suspected cases of H5N1 in Croatia and Denmark remain unconfirmed.

Globally, The H5N1 strain has infected 171 people, and killed 93 of them, since 2003.

Emergency measures

A 3 km (2 mi) safety area has been set-up from the area in which the bird died. In accordance with EU guidelines, vets will check all the birds in this zone. Surveillance has increased on wild birds within 10 km (6 mi).

In an attempt to address the public concern, a telephone line and website has been set-up. This notifies them not to touch dead birds, but to report them straight away to the authorities.

France, as the largest producer of poultry in Europe, already has farmers worrying about their livelihood; despite the fact the avian flu has not affected any of the nation's poultry. If the disease transfers to poultry, the transport of poultry can be restricted.

Further tests have been done on two ducks that have died in the Somme region in the north of France.