Monday, February 27, 2006



The owner of the French turkey farm now quarantined from the outside world told the newspaper Le Parisien that he believed the bird flu virus arrived on his farm on bales of straw.

Last Wednesday night he checked on his turkeys as they were recovering from a bout of diahorrea. A local vet supplied antibiotics for many of the turkeys.

On Thursday morning, the farmer found 400 turkeys had died, and hundreds more were sick.

All of the surviving turkeys were slaughtered within 48 hours of the farmer contacting agricultural health authorities.

The farmer, his wife and eight year old son are now living under quarantine on the farm, and are being treated with the anti-viral drug Tamiflu. His eleven year old daughter was not at home when local authorities quarantined the farm, within a two mile security zone, and she has since not been allowed to reunite with her family.

Locals travelling on the quiet, country lanes near the security zone have been startled as they are stopped at roadblocks by authorities dressed in bio suits, wearing masks, spraying all cars with disinfectant.

The farmer said he now felt like a pariah. The flu medicine is delivered by local policemen, but the police refuse to approach the house, instead leaving the drugs on the road for the farmer to collect. Mail deliveries have ceased. The family is now starting to run out of food.


French President Jacques Chiarac, once the country's agriculture minister, made an appearance at France's annual international agricultural fair and promised that there was "absolutely no danger in eating poultry and eggs". Chirac ate a portion of a chicken dish in front of TV cameras in an effort to calm people down over the outbreak. But the fact that not a single live chicken or duck was on display at the fair, for the first time in its 42 year history, did not help to reassure the public.

Chirac was quoted on television, by translators, as saying "a completely unjustified sort of total panic" had developed in France over the past week.

Since the avian influenza virus struck a turkey farm at Ain, close to where two dead wild ducks were found ten days ago, poultry sales in France have plunged by an unofficial estimate as high as 50%.

Japan has now announced a temporary ban on all French poultry products, including those packaged before the current outbreak was announced.

A plan has been discussed to vaccinate all of France's birds, but this will affect the status of poultry product exports, the fourth largest market in the world, worth an estimated $US7 billion a year.

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