Bear: breeders fear the arrival of a deadly disease for humans

The Arie Ovine Syndicate decided to appeal to the Paris court to challenge the importation of two Slovenian bears into the region. He is particularly concerned that these two animals will spread tick-borne encephalitis, a rare and life-threatening disease for humans.

Concern in Ariège. In an official statement sent Thursday, October 11, the Departmental Sheep Union (SOA) announced that it would file an appeal in the Paris court to challenge the ministerial order authorizing the reintroduction of two Slovenian bears in Béarn on October 5 , reports the regional daily The Dispatch. Because he fears, besides the endangerment of herds, the importation of a rare and potentially fatal disease for man: tick-borne encephalitis.

And for good reason: the health component of the ministerial decree of August 29 published in the Official Bulletin of the Ministry of Ecological and Solidarity Transition "reports the endemic presence in Slovenia of TBE, or tick-borne encephalitis, transmitted vector disease by ticks to all wildlife and humans.This incurable disease, potentially fatal for humans, is diagnosed in about 100 cases each year in Slovenia. The reintroduction process concludes that there is a moderate, and therefore non-zero, risk of importing this disease into the Pyrenean natural environment which is free from it ", explains the SOA, which is currently in contact with other federations to propose to associate them to the appeal.

"It has been decided to file a petition with the court of Paris for annulment with a suspension order that will make the application faster if we win the case.If we get there, the government will have the obligation to recover his bears via the detection beacons they have around their necks ", says Franck Watts, Treasurer of SOA, Why Doctor. "This disease is not curable, it is asymptomatic in bears that can transmit it to ticks and thus pass the virus to wildlife and the local population," he said. And to rebel: "The ONCFS (National Office of Hunting and Wildlife) is concerned about the risks for its own agents: they precaunise to deparasit the captured bears and to vaccinate beforehand its agents who take care animals but it seems that the risk to the local population weighs very little Risk as "moderate to low" so in conclusion "negligible risk", so we do not talk about it Hopefully our summary puts the pressure ".

Anger against the state and the "ecologists"

The two bears, Claverina ("the heiress, the one who holds the keys" in Bearn) and Sortia ("little sister" in Bearn), were released in the Pyrenees on October 5, then announced Francois de Rugy, Minister of Ecological Transition, with great enthusiasm on Twitter. The first, aged 7, weighs 140 kg while the second, 6, weighs 150 kg. Both are pregnant and will give birth to cubs in 2019, another source of anger and concern for many locals.

This is not the first time that locals are alarmed by the risk of tick-borne encephalitis due to the importation of Slovenian bears into the Pyrenees. On its site, Pyrénées-Pyrénéeus, a platform dedicated to the region accuses "the French state to have voluntarily imported this disease hitherto unknown in the Pyrenees and Spain". "While the Pyrenees were, before the importation of bears from Slovenia a preserved and healthy region, likewise for Spain, the madness of men who call themselves" ecologists "and protectors of the environment leads us to take sanitary precautions hitherto unknown ", is it also written.

As a rule, tick-borne encephalitis is much more common in the East than in the West. In France, Alsace is the most affected, followed by Lorraine. However, some cases have been observed in the past in other regions, particularly in the South-West (Bordeaux), Haute-Savoie (Faverges, Grenoble) and Aquitaine. In addition to France, the disease is prevalent in the Vladivostok region of Russia, northeastern China, Sweden, Finland, Italy, Greece, southern Crimea and northern Japan. About 158,000 cases were recorded between 1990 and 2007, of which two-thirds were in Russia.

A mortality rate that ranges from 0.5% to 35%

As its name suggests, tick-borne encephalitis is transmitted by the bite of an infected tick with an arbovirus, especially in the spring and fall. After incubation for one to two weeks, the disease begins abruptly as a flu. The patient will suffer from fever, headache and chills. Then appear in some people (in 20 to 30% of cases), symptoms due to neurological problems: prostration or on the contrary a strong agitation, drowsiness, delusions, disorders of tone and muscles and losses balance.

There is no specific antiviral drug against this disease. The treatment, which can be supplemented with corticosteroids, is only intended to relieve symptoms. Two weeks of bed rest can also be advised.

Depending on the subtype of the virus, its mortality rate varies from 0.5% to 35% and up to a third of patients may have more or less significant neurological sequelae in the long term such as headaches, hearing disorders and swallowing or memory problems.

For this reason, health authorities urge people living in endemic areas to take preventive measures. In addition to vaccination, it is a question of protecting oneself by wearing long and protective clothing during a walk in the forest, the use of skin repellents and the quick but careful extraction of ticks after bite. In general, if you spent time in the forest or camping, consider carefully inspecting your skin or those of your children, especially in the armpits, genitals, troughs of the knees and head and neck.

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