France is mobilizing against a possible pandemic.
With the threat of avian flu now extending into Europe, in March France will conduct a test of its plan to fight against an eventual pandemic.
The government has also decided to reinforce the preventive measures instituted last October: the confinement of open-air poultry farms, in effect in 26 departments (provinces) will be extended to 58 departments.
This confinement aims to prevent any contact between poulty and migratory birds, possible carriers of the H5N1 virus. The departments involved are those which contain wetlands - rivers, marshes, esturaries - where migrating birds prefer to nest.
March might be too late and birds may be the least of their problem. Belgian authorities are investigating a possible human case of bird flu.
Belgian authorities announced Saturday that they were investigating a possible human case of bird flu in a Brussels hospital.
According to the minister of health, a person arrived at Sint Pieters Hospital complaining of flu symptoms. He had returned from Turkey two days prior and had come from a region where cases of the avian flu have been reported.
"This person is currently under observation and all necessary measures have been taken," the minister reported in a communique.
According to the minister, blood samples have been taken from the patient who lives in Brussels to confirm if he has indeed contracted the avian flu and if it is the mortal H5N1 strain.
Results of the first tests are expected on Saturday and the minister of health Rudy Demotte and hospital spokesmen will hold a press conference.
[UPDATE:] Tests have proven negative.