If you think you may be traveling to France in the near future, be aware: the whole country is on high alert due to bird flu.
According to Reuters.com, several cases of the “highly pathogenic H5N8 avian flu strain” was detected in farms across southwest France. In northern France, wild ducks have been found to be carrying the disease, as well, prompting the high medical alert.
France has the largest stock of poultry of all the countries in the European Union, and has been hit with several bird flu outbreaks recently. It’s also a large producer of foie gras, and so France’s food industry is hurting economically from these setbacks.
How are humans infected?
Being infected by bird flu, as a human, is rare, but when it happens, a person can fall quite sick.
Most people who fall ill with a type of bird flu have had contact with sick or dead birds that have had the illness as well. When a human gets it, it can be fatal.
The scary thing, aside from this, is the fact that once a person is infected with a bird flu, it can spread from person to person.
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Symptoms of bird flu include a high fever and a cough. In strong cases, it can progress into severe pneumonia, acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), septic shock and multi-organ failure leading to death. Nice stuff!
To avoid contact with a bird flu virus, avoid domesticated birds, wash your hands, cook your poultry thoroughly, avoid raw eggs and ask about a flu shot.
According to the Mayo Clinic, the FDA has approved a single vaccine that can prevent you from getting one type of bird flu, the H5N1 virus.
It’s not the one that’s on a rampage in France right now, but as an aside, it’s good to know that the U.S government is stockpiling this one in case of an outbreak of H5N1 in the U.S.