With the news last week that the first case of bird flu has been discovered in France, everyone in the U.K. is now wondering how long it will be before the deadly virus arrives on our shores. As France’s first case of bird flu was discovered at a turkey farm, poultry farmers in this country are being advised to keep their birds indoors, as a precautionary measure. Despite France’s president Jacques Chirac insisting that cooked poultry and eggs are still safe to eat, France’s poultry export sales have now plummeted.
Amid fears of a pandemic flu outbreak, many people in the U.K. are now panic-buying Tamiflu on the internet, in a bid to protect themselves and their families from the effects of the deadly disease. Trading standards chiefs have warned the British public to beware of on-line criminals who are cashing in on people’s fears over bird flu. Apparently there is currently a massive black market in fake and stolen versions of the drug and conmen are making millions by selling fake drugs claiming to be “Tamiflu” over the net to unsuspecting customers.
The British government has awarded multi-million pound contracts to two pharmaceutical companies to make a vaccine against the H5N1 strain of bird flu. They will supply over 3 million doses of the vaccines, earmarked for key healthworkers in Britain and Ireland, (many National Health Service workers who will be caring for victims of the virus).
In addition pharmaceutical companies have been urged to quote for a further large contract to enable every individual in Britain to have two jabs of an antivirus (which will be produced as soon as the exact strain of the bird flu virus is determined, should it hit Britain).
I was reading in the press today that apparently the government has now arranged for planes to fly over estuaries and marshland searching for dead birds. Amongst the areas being targeted are Morecambe Bay and The Mersey Estuary. What next? According to a government source, "The public should be aware every effort is being taken to ensure that if avian flu reaches Britain it is found and contained as quickly as possible." For the sake of everyone in this country, we certainly hope so!