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There is a widespread outbreak of bird flu in wild birds in Norway this year, and the bird flu virus was also recently detected in red foxes.
The disease is rarely contagious to humans, and has occurred worldwide only after very close contact with sick or dead birds. Avian influenza has not been detected in humans in Norway.
Since such viruses in birds are always changing and can develop new characteristics, it is still a good idea to take some simple precautions to protect yourself from infection.
Tips to prevent bird flu infection:
- Do not touch sick or dead birds.
- Wash your hands with soap and water after touching birds, bird droppings, or equipment that has come into contact with birds.
- Notify the Norwegian Food Safety Authority if sick or dead birds of some species are found. In addition, the Norwegian Food Safety Authority wants reports on finds of carnivores and marine mammals.
- Call your doctor if you have contact with birds or other animals with a suspected or confirmed infection, and develop flu-like symptoms and/or a common eye in the following 10 days.
- Dogs and cats should be kept away from sick and dead birds.
Bird hunters across the country are encouraged to practice good hygiene with regard to hunting to avoid contracting bird flu.
During August, the Veterinary Institute also detected rabbit plague (tularemia) in several wild rabbits from the area east of Oslovjord and from Trondelag.
There are signs of bacteria in these areas, but it can also be found elsewhere in the country.
Tularemia can be transmitted to humans. The disease can be transmitted directly from rabbits or small rodents, by tick bites and mosquito bites, by contaminated drinking water, or by inhaling dust.
Cases of human tularemia are recorded every year in Norway. So far this year, 30 cases of rabbit plague have been reported in humans, with most of those infected from Viken and Trondelag.
Tips to prevent rabbit plague:
In areas where tularemia has been detected and/or there are a lot of small rodents, you can avoid infection by following these tips:
- Do not drink water directly from nature in areas where there are a lot of small rodents. You can drink the water if you boil it or purify it in any other way.
- Avoid contact with sick or suicidal rabbits, mice, and lemurs. Wear gloves if necessary to handle and wash your hands afterward.
- Be careful not to shower or bathe in the water as there are visible remains of dead animals in the water.
- Buildings and drinking water wells must be secured against small rodents.
- You can become infected by inhaling dust, for example when stacking firewood, or by sweeping up rat droppings. When cleaning, use a damp cloth instead. Household chlorine can be used where 1 dL of chlorine is mixed in 5 liters of water to remove infectious agents. Please use gloves. Remember to wash your hands well afterward.
- Avoid licking dogs and cats that have recently been exposed to dead or sick rabbits, or small rodents such as lemurs. They may have contracted bacteria in the oral cavity and transmitted the infection to humans.
- Use mosquito and tick protection.
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