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Bird Flu Found Again in Wild Birds in France - 09/07/2007
 
Several farms in eastern France have been sealed off and the French government has applied tighter rules to poultry breeders since Thursday 05 July 2007 after 3 dead swans tested positive for the virulent H5N1 strain of bird flu.
Several farms in eastern France have been sealed off and the French government has applied tighter rules to poultry breeders since Thursday 05 July 2007 after 3 dead swans tested positive for the virulent H5N1 strain of bird flu.

This is the first instance of avian flu in France since early 2006. It follows the discovery of a case in eastern Germany on Tuesday 03 July. Wild birds in Bavaria and Saxony have also died from the disease within the last month. The dead swans had been found by a pond a week ago. They appeared to be young, born this spring and had not arrived with migration. A high-level alert in mainland France, Europe’s biggest poultry producer, now means that birds and poultry in France must be locked up or protected by nets to avoid contact with wild birds. An 8-mile observation zone has been set up around the village of Assenoncourt. Pigeon races and other events where birds are gathered will be forbidden.

The French Health Minister, Roselyne Bachelot has said that France is not threatened by a pandemic, but extreme vigilance is necessary, “because the large flu epidemic that appeared after WW1, also known as Spanish flu, was of avian origin” (The Times, 06 July 2007). (It is misleading to name the event 90 years ago as Spanish flu: the origin is not known and its spread may have been accelerated by the movements of repatriated troops and contact with pigs). Last year 13 EU states confirmed cases of bird flu: Germany, Austria, Denmark, Italy, Greece, Britain, the Czech Republic, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden, France, and Hungary. In France the virus was found in February last year in more than 60 wild birds and at a farm with 11,000 turkeys. More than 30 countries have reported outbreaks in the past year. Most involved wild birds such as swans.

The H5N1 virus has killed more than 190 people worldwide. None was from Europe. Worst human losses due to avian flu occurred in Indonesia, Vietnam, and Thailand.  
 
 

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