Suspected bird flu case on French island of Reunion

26th October 2005, Comments 0 comments

SAINT DENIS DE LA REUNION, Reunion Island, Oct 26 (AFP) - Preliminary tests on a man hospitalised on the French island of Reunion in the Indian Ocean indicate he may have contracted bird flu, the authorities said Wednesday.

SAINT DENIS DE LA REUNION, Reunion Island, Oct 26 (AFP) - Preliminary tests on a man hospitalised on the French island of Reunion in the Indian Ocean indicate he may have contracted bird flu, the authorities said Wednesday.

Conclusive test results on the 43-year-old patient -- who recently returned from an trip to Thailand -- will be known "before the end of the week," the government administrator's office on the island said in a statement.

The man was admitted to hospital on Saturday "for weakness and strong headaches," the statement said.

When he started coughing on Monday, "two samples taken to look for the flu virus H5N1 were taken from his nose and his throat. The first was inconclusive, the second was positive," the statement said.

"There is therefore a suspicion of flu of avian origin, even though the symptoms are not very indicative," the office said, adding that test samples had been sent to mainland France for more thorough analysis.

The man, a French citizen, is in quarantine and receiving anti-viral treatment in the island's Bellepierre hospital in the main city of Saint Denis, a doctor at the hospital told AFP.

His condition was not worrying, suggesting that he may have a "benign form" of the virus," the doctor said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The man was believed to have been in contact with birds during a visit to a bird park in Thailand during his vacation, the doctor said.

Nineteen other people who went on the same trip to Thailand have been questioned about their health, authorities added. Two of them have "flu-type symptoms" and are undergoing tests, the results of which are not yet available.

Thailand is one of a number of Asian countries where outbreaks of a virulent strain of H5N1 virus have proved lethal to humans. The virus has killed more than 60 people in Asia since late 2003.

The government administrator's office in Reunion stressed that the H5N1 virus, believed to be spread by migrating birds, "is not transmissible between humans" and that therefore no special measures were being taken for the man's family or the island's population of 780,000.

However it asked people planning a trip to countries affected by bird flu, "in particular Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and Indonesia, to avoid all contact with birds."

Reunion Island is located east of Madagascar, off the African coast.

The French health ministry's Health Monitoring Institute (InVS) in Paris said that so far a dozen people who had returned to mainland France from countries hit by the spread of bird flu had been tested but none had been infected.

The head of the institute, Jean-Claude Desenclos, told a parliamentary committee on bird flu that the tests were carried out because the individuals were deemed at risk of contamination after detailing the nature of their trips.

They were differentiated from the 200 other people who complained of flu-type symptoms on arrival in French airports from contaminated countries but who were not thought to have been exposed to the virus.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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