There is an extensive outbreak of bird flu in wild birds in Norway this year, and the bird flu virus has recently also been detected in red foxes.
The disease is very rarely contagious to humans, and worldwide has only occurred after very close contact with sick or dead birds. Bird flu has never been detected in humans in Norway.
Since such viruses in birds are always changing and can develop new characteristics, it is still recommended to take some simple precautions to protect yourself from infection.
Advice to prevent infection with bird flu:
- Do not touch sick or dead birds.
- Wash your hands with soap and water after contact with birds, bird droppings or equipment that has been in contact with birds.
- Notify the Norwegian Food Safety Authority if sick or dead birds of certain species are found. In addition, the Norwegian Food Safety Authority wants reports of discoveries of sick carnivores and marine mammals.
- Contact a doctor if you have had contact with birds or other animals with suspected or confirmed infection, and you develop flu-like symptoms and/or eye catarrh in the 10 following days.
- Dogs and cats should be kept away from sick and dead birds.
Bird hunters throughout the country are encouraged to practice good hygiene in connection with hunting to avoid infection by bird flu.
During August, the Veterinary Institute also detected hare plague (tularemia) in several hares from the area east of the Oslofjord and from Trøndelag.
There are signs that the bacterium is found 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 hares or small rodents, via tick bites and mosquito bites, via contaminated drinking water, or by inhaling dust.
Cases of tularemia in humans are registered every year in Norway. So far this year, 30 cases of hare plague have been reported in humans, and most of those infected are from Viken and Trøndelag.
Advice to prevent infection with hare 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 straight from nature in areas with a lot of small rodents. You can drink the water if you boil it or otherwise disinfect it.
- Avoid contact with sick or suicidal hares, mice and lemurs. Wear gloves if handling is necessary and wash your hands afterwards.
- Be careful not to bathe in or wash yourself with water where there are visible remains of dead animals in the water.
- Buildings and drinking water wells should be secured against small rodents.
- You can become infected by breathing in dust, for example when stacking firewood, or by sweeping up mouse droppings. When cleaning, use a damp cloth instead. Household chlorine where 1 dl of chlorine is mixed in 5 liters of water can be used to remove infectious agents. Please use gloves. Remember to wash your hands well afterwards.
- Avoid being licked by dogs and cats that have recently been in contact with self-dead or sick hares, or small rodents such as lemurs. They may have contracted the bacteria in their oral cavity and transmitted the infection to humans.
- Use mosquito and tick protection.
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