- The spread of the H5N1 strain of bird
flu made a worrying new advance yesterday with a probable outbreak in a
large turkey farm in eastern France.
- More than 11 000 turkeys were slaughtered
at the battery farm near Versailleux in Ain after a form of H5 bird flu
began to spread rapidly through the flocks. Tests were continuing last
night to decide whether or not the birds were infected with the H5N1 strain
but this seemed highly likely. [Already confirmed, as reported in item
- The farm, in the Bresse region, not far
from the Swiss border, is close to lakes where 2 wild ducks have died
from the virulent form of avian flu in recent days. 7 new cases of H5N1
among dead swans [species?!] in the same area were confirmed yesterday.[An
official notification is anticipated].
- One of the worrying aspects of the outbreak
-- the 1st in a poultry farm in Europe -- is that the afflicted turkeys
were kept permanently under cover. Veterinary officials said that they
must have been infected indirectly through wild bird droppings brought
into the poultry houses, on bedding straw or on boots.
- The Bresse region is one of the chief
poultry-rearing areas of France, the largest producer and exporter of
poultry in Europe. Poultry sales have fallen by 30 per cent in France in
recent weeks. French government officials were at pains yesterday to point
out that poultry was safe to eat and there was no immediate reason to
fear an outbreak of the disease among humans. The owners of the turkey
farm, M. and Mme Daniel Clair, and their children and workers, have been
placed under quarantine at home and a surveillance zone has been set up
covering 1/3 of the departement of Ain.
- The disease -- which has killed 90 people
in Asia -- can only spread to humans through extensive contact with an
infected bird. Fears of a worldwide avian influenza pandemic which might
kill millions are based on the possibility that the deadly virus might
eventually mutate in contact with a human strain of flu. This is regarded
as [possible] but not inevitable. However, the sense of crisis and foreboding
in France was increased by the fact that -- by coincidence -- yesterday
was the day selected for a human bird flu "simulation exercise"
in the city of Lyons, 70 miles from the turkey outbreak in Bresse.
- The prime minister, Dominique de Villepin,
was in Lyons for the exercise, in which 2 "infected passengers"
arrived at the airport from Asia and were immediately placed in an isolation
ward in a local hospital. Anti-flu injections were then tested on volunteers.
- Asked how avian flu could have infected
turkeys which are kept indoors, M. Villepin said: "We are studying
very carefully what happened on this farm. Depending on what we find,
we may have to strengthen our security recommendations."
- Meanwhile Bernard Vallat, France's former
chief vet -- now director general of the World Organisation for Animal
Health -- warned yesterday that the H5N1 virus was now so endemic in migratory
wildfowl that is was certain to spread to almost every country in the
world. The only possible exceptions, he said, were Australia and New Zealand.
- This contradicts British predictions
in recent days that avian flu is unlikely to come to the UK. Yesterday
Slovakia confirmed its 1st cases of H5N1 in 2 dead birds, while Germany
announced the deadly strain had been detected in wild birds in 2 more
- M. Vallat also criticised the European
Union for accepting French and Dutch demands that poultry farmers should
be allowed to vaccinate their birds, which might mask the presence of
the disease and make it harder to control
- ProMed Comment
- Versailleux is situated nearly 4 km northern
to Joyeux, the site where 7 wild ducks were found dead on 13 Feb 2006.
- Laboratory investigation confirmed the
infection by H5N1 (for France's official notification, go to http://www.oie.int/eng/info/hebdo/AIS_30.HTM#Sec17
- As demonstrated in the past, and more
recently during the H7N7 outbreak in the Netherlands in 2003, the virus
can spread by various means, including mechanical, such as vehicles, utensils,
people who may carry the virus on their clothing or footwear, etc.
- Dutch investigators also examined the
possible role of pigs in the epidemiology of H7N7. They concluded that
swine in mixed herds with infected poultry are at risk for introduction
of avian influenza, subtype H7N7, while swine in mixed herds with no infected
poultry or swine in herds with no poultry at all are at no significant
risk for that subtype. However, the possible contact between swine and
infected wild birds was not covered.
- Obviously, other subtypes might have
different characteristics. - Mod.AS
- Patricia A. Doyle, DVM, PhD- Bus Admin,
- Please visit my "Emerging Diseases"
message board at:
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- Zhan le Devlesa tai sastimasa
- Go with God and in Good Health