French authorities remain vigilant on bird flu 2008-06-21 19:54:29   Print

    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 had disappeared."

    "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 Health.

    "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 food.

    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.

Editor: Bi Mingxin
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