-  Saturday 15 August 2020

    France Finds Flu in Wild Duck; India Awaits Human Test Results

    Feb. 23 (Bloomberg) -- France reported a case of avian influenza in a wild bird as India awaits test results today on five people, who may be the first humans to have the virus in the world's second-most populous nation.

    The lethal H5N1 virus was found in a dead wild duck in the Ain region of southeast France, Agence France-Presse reported today, citing France's Agriculture Ministry. In Nigeria, bird flu outbreaks have spread to farms in at least five states, the World Health Organization said.

    ``Rapid spread of the virus within Nigeria has raised concern over the possible spread to neighboring countries,'' the WHO said yesterday on its web site.

    India's outbreak, first reported Feb. 18, opened a new bird flu front in Asia, exposing a human population of 1.1 billion to possible infection. The H5N1 virus becoming easily spread among humans may spark a pandemic such as the 1918 outbreak that killed 50 million people worldwide. India is one of 13 countries this month to have reported their first cases of H5N1 in wild or domestic birds.

    The spread of the virus in birds creates opportunity for human infection as people come into contact with poultry during slaughtering, plucking feathers, butchering or preparation for cooking. At least 92 of the 170 people known to have been infected with the H5N1 virus since late 2003 have died, mainly in Asia, according to the WHO.

    Indian Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss yesterday refuted reports that some patients in India had already tested positive for bird flu. An Indian TV station said yesterday that initial reports suggested some patients tested positive for ``mild bird flu,'' citing people it didn't name.

    India has culled more than 223,000 birds in the western regions of Gujarat and Maharashtra since the outbreak was found in Maharashtra state.

    European Union

    The first H5N1 infections among domesticated birds in the European Union were found yesterday after an infected dead swan passed the virus to three ducks and two chickens in an Austrian animal shelter. The birds infected at the shelter are not farm animals, the Austrian Agency for Health and Food Safety said.

    The spread of H5N1 to farm animals within the EU may have a drastic impact on the area's poultry industry. Poultry sales in Italy fell to about 3.5 billion euros ($4.2 billion) from 4 billion euros, farmers' group Coldiretti said last month.

    European health ministers will gather in Vienna tomorrow to discuss efforts to control the outbreaks. They'll be joined by experts from the World Health Organization and the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control.

    Malaysia Tests

    In Malaysia, five of seven people hospitalized tested negative for H5N1, a Health Ministry spokesman said yesterday, while the test results for the remaining two aren't known.

    Malaysia culled 494 chickens, ducks and birds and began house-to-house checks for human infection in four villages near where the disease was detected in Selangor, according to the disease control unit at the Veterinary Services Department.

    The country's chicken sales dropped 15 percent over two days, causing more than 1 million ringgit ($269,000) in losses as demand fell following the country's first reported bird flu outbreak in more than a year, the Star, the Malaysian newspaper, reported, citing a Federal Territory Poultry Traders Association official.

    Nigerian officials confirmed outbreaks at commercial farms in the state of Kano, Plateau, Katsina and Bauchi and in the Abuja area, the WHO said in a statement. The outbreak was first recorded Feb. 8 in Kaduna state.

    ``The scale of the outbreak in birds is not yet fully understood,'' the WHO said. ``Little is known about the presence of the virus in small backyard flocks, where the greatest risk of human exposures and infections resides.''


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