On the eve of the holiday season, bird flu or avian influenza is officially detected at 15 sites in five departments of the South West of France.
The report that the National Security Agency Food (ANSES) has published at the request of the Ministries of Health and Agriculture leaves no room for concern. ANSES states in fact that “there is no trace of any pathogenic virulence marker for man.” And that the avian influenza virus currently present in France is not transmissible to humans through the consumption of meat, eggs, foie gras and more generally by all food stuffs. To confirm these findings the Ministry of Health said that “the transmission of avian flu to humans is extremely rare”.
Ensure zero contamination risk to humans
On November 24, the National Influenza Reference Laboratory of the National Health Security Agency (ANSES) has identified a strain of avian influenza highly pathogenic H5N1 in a backyard farm in the Dordogne.
Since that first case, several outbreaks have been confirmed. They cover various avian species (ducks, chickens, guinea fowl, geese), various departments (Dordogne, Gers, Haute-Vienne, Landes, Pyrenees Atlantiques) but also different types of viruses: H5N1, H5N2 and H5N9 “In this situation, it was necessary ensure that the H5N1 virus was not from the same source as that of the Asian lineage of 1996, highly pathogenic and dangerous to humans, “says Thierry Pineau, Head of the Animal Health Department of the National Institute of Agricultural Research (INRA). “The other two strains (H5N2 and H5N9) have never circulated among humans because they do not have the specific determinants”.
ANSES issued a report1 on the sequencing of the virus and found that the H5N1 virus detected in France was not dangerous to humans and that the risk of contamination was almost zero for humans.
Despite these statements, at least 15 countries and territories have established embargoes, wide or targeted, on all or part of French poultry products, mainly in Asia and Africa, including Japan. “These decisions have been taken to protect farms and not humans. Indeed, there is no zero risk that the virus does not move through the boxes and transport pallets, “says Thierry Pineau.
Precautionary principle to those who work in farms
However, those working closest to the poultry must protect itself because, ANSES recalls in its report that “the risk of infection by the respiratory route, especially during handling and preparation of poultry products from infected poultry , can not be totally excluded. ”
“If ANSES issued the precautionary principle, it is important to remember that to date no health declaration has been made and no symptoms have been reported in people working in poultry farms . “says Thierry Pineau. “This is an animal health crisis, without the risk of contagion to humans,” concludes Dr. Molecular Pharmacology.