Thursday, July 05, 2007

France says H5N1 bird flu virus confirmed in swans

PARIS (Reuters) - Tests have confirmed that three swans found dead in eastern France were killed by the H5N1 bird flu virus, the French agriculture ministry said on Thursday, France’s first cases of the disease in over a year.

“Michel Barnier, minister of agriculture and fishing, is putting in place the risk prevention measures corresponding to the shift from the ‘moderate’ level to the ‘high’ level,” the ministry said in a statement.

The “high” level means that in mainland France birds and poultry will have to be either locked up or protected by nets to avoid all contact with wild birds, a ministry official said. The gathering of birds and pigeon contests will be forbidden.

In 98 “humid zones” in France, or around 15 percent of the country, there will be special veterinary checks at poultry farms.

French Health Minister Roselyne Bachelot said on French television that the country was not threatened by a flu pandemic at this stage but that the government would be remain on alert.

“We have to be extremely vigilant because the large flu epidemic that appeared after the first world war, also known as Spanish flu, was of avian origin,” she said on LCI.

A French poultry breeders group said in a statement on Thursday that the sanitary practices they put in place gave them sufficient tools to thwart the spread of the disease.

Bird flu story source: Reuters Alertnet

Posted by john T. on 07/05 at 04:52 AM
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