PARIS, June 21 (Xinhua) -- The situation with regard to the avian influenza
today "is neither better nor worse" compared to a decade ago and French
authorities remain as much vigilant as ever before, Didier Houssin, France's
director general for public health, has said.
Houssin, who was speaking on Friday, was addressing reporters on what the
government was doing to prepare to fight against a possible pandemic, according
to the French press.
In his remarks, the public health general director, who is part of an
inter-ministerial delegation on the fight against the avian influenza, was
quoted as saying that "no scientific authority had ever said that the flu threat
"The premise of a possible pandemic is still much present. We know that
there is a possibility of a future return, which means that we should be
prepared to handle such an eventuality," he said, adding that his team was
fine-tuning the plan to make it "more and more operational."
Since 2003, which marked the beginning of the epidemic, 385 cases of avian
influenza, including 243 deaths, have been tabulated in 15 countries.
In four grouped-or-clustered human cases, an inter-human transmission has
been confirmed, which has notably led to fears of a "humanization of the avian
virus," said Francoise Weber, executive director of the National Institute of
"But all the four cases," according to the French researcher, "occurred
within a single genetic line and after close and repeated contacts."
In Europe, the situation was described as "relatively calm" and "quite
satisfactory" in France by Jean-Marc Bournigal, France's director general for
In France, the only cases, which were recorded in the course of 2007, are
those concerning the seven wild birds in Moselle. "So far, no highly pathogenic
virus has been detected in livestock in the country," said Bournigal.
In Europe, since the early 2008, scattered cases of H7N1 virus have been
recorded in Denmark and Italy, while one case of the highly pathogenic H7N7 has
been reported in Britain.
"Although no cases have been detected in France, the reaction must be the
same face all types of viruses," according to Bournigal, who concurred that the
country should intensify its efforts to handle a possible outbreak.