Date: Thu, 15 Aug 2019 07:55:59 +0200 (METDST)

Carcassonne, France, Aug 15, 2019 (AFP) - More than 500 firefighters have been deployed to battle a blaze that has already destroyed 900 hectares of pine forest in southern France, the fire service said on Thursday.   The fire broke out on Wednesday afternoon in Aude, southeast of the city of Carcassonne, in forests that were classified as having a "severe" risk of fire because of a recent drought.   "About 900 hectares (2,200 acres) burned," commander Philippe Fabre from the Aude fire service told AFP.

The fire was fanned by overnight winds blowing gusts of 40 kmh (25 mph) but homes were not under threat, he said.   No buildings have been destroyed or people injured, he added, but warned that the wind strength was forecast to strengthen during the day.   Firefighters were working to stop the blaze reaching nearby villages.    "The fire if complicated because it is in an area difficult to access," an Aude official said.   The fire service said it planned to drop water bombs over the burning area, after dampening down the edges of the forest overnight.
Date: Sat 3 Aug 2019
Source: Food Safety News [edited]

Almost 50 people are ill in France as part of a foodborne outbreak linked to eating a brand of unpasteurized, raw milk sheep's cheese. A spokeswoman from Sante Publique France told Food Safety News that _Salmonella_ Enteritidis was responsible for 49 illnesses and one person needed hospital treatment.

Those ill are men and women, mostly adults between 22 and 94 years old, but 5 children were infected. The patients live in 5 different regions of the country. The 1st patients were reported in early June 2019, with the most recent reported illness in early July 2019. Two incidents of food poisoning with isolates of _Salmonella_ Enteritidis in patients were declared via mandatory declaration by regional health authorities in Center-Val-de-Loire.

Patients were asked about food consumption, and the _Salmonella_ strains isolated from their stools were sent to the National Reference Center of Salmonella at the Institut Pasteur for typing. All these people had eaten sheep cheese, and checks on the cheeses revealed the presence of _Salmonella_ Enteritidis.

In mid-July 2019, the French firm GAEC Froidevaux Cornuet withdrew products from sale as tests detected _Salmonella_ and the epidemiological link to potential human illness. Implicated raw milk sheep's cheese with the name "Pur brebis du Lochois" was sold between 20 May - 20 Jul this year [2019]. Products were sold directly on the farm, at the Loches market in Indre-et-Loire, and at retailers or wholesalers who distributed them at the national level.

French authorities advised anyone who had the products not to consume them and to return items to the point of sale where they were purchased. Distribution also included Austria, Germany, and Spain, as well as possibly the Netherlands. In Germany, some of the cheese has use-by dates in August and September 2019.
[Unpasteurized dairy products can be vehicles for transmission of a host of pathogens. - ProMED Mod.LL]

[HealthMap/ProMED map available at:
France: <>]
Date: Sun 14 Jul 2019
Source: Food Safety News [edited]
French authorities are investigating a suspected salmonella outbreak linked to a meat product from Italy. Officials did not reveal how many people were ill, but did say Coppa ham, which is a salted, seasoned, and dry-cured thinly cut pork shoulder or neck product, was thought to be the source.

Consumer complaints led the French supermarket Intermarche to alert authorities and withdraw products from sale. The store started the withdrawal of implicated products on 8 Jul 2019. According to the recall notice, salmonella was detected in the product during microbiological control testing. The link with Coppa of the brand Di Vittorio supplied by Castelli France, based in Marseille, was confirmed by French officials and [Public Health] France, the country's public health agency.

Sliced or whole Coppa sold between 17 May 2019 and 8 Jul 2019 throughout the country is affected. Coppa sandwiches made at the supermarket between the same dates have also been recalled. Health authorities told people who still have the products not to consume them and to take items back to the place of purchase. The same product was recalled in August 2018 for listeria. It was sold at Intermarche between 8 Jun 2018 and 9 Aug 2018.
[The number of cases is not stated nor is the serotype of _Salmonella enterica_. - ProMED Mod.LL]

[HealthMap/ProMED-mail map of France:
Date: Mon 15 Jul 2019
Source: Daily Mail [edited]

Holidaymakers heading to France have been warned about a green tide of potentially toxic sea lettuce possibly having killed 2 men in under a week. An 18 year old oyster farmer died in Morlaix Bay last Saturday [6 Jul 2019], and a 70 year old retiree passed away in Douarnenez Bay on Tuesday [9 Jul 2019].

The Brittany beauty spots where the unidentified men apparently succumbed to heart attacks "in minutes" are hugely popular with tourists, including thousands who arrive from the UK at this time of year.

Jean-Philippe Recappe, the Brest prosecutor, confirmed fears had been raised about possible hydrogen sulphide poisoning caused by decomposing sea lettuce, or _Ulva lactuca_. Six beaches in the area are currently closed because of the green algae producing a smell like rotting eggs. [_U. lactuca_ is actually an algae grown in large sheet or leaflike formations resembling lettuce and has, at times, been referred to as seaweed. - ProMED Mod.TG] The colourless gas can attack nervous and respiratory systems inside the human body, paralysing breathing and then causing death.

Commenting on the death of the apparently healthy teenager at Morlaix, Mr Recappe said: "The cause of death has not yet been determined since the results of toxicological and pathological analysis is not yet known." Mr Recappe said all visitors to the beaches needed to be aware of the potential dangers caused by the algae.

Fears about sea lettuce were 1st raised as early as the 1970s, after wild animals, including boars, appeared to succumb to the fumes, along with horses and pet dogs.

_U. lactuca_, or sea lettuce, is found all over the world. It is usually found on sheltered rocks and shores, and in other pools of shallow water. This sea lettuce is light green and translucent, and can grow up to 7.1 inches (18 cm) in length. [Some sources indicate it may grow larger than mentioned here. The size may be dependent upon location, nutrients, temperatures, etc. - ProMED Mod.TG]

Large amounts of the algae are found in Brittany, France, which thrives in brackish waters. The area in Brittany is perfect for the sea lettuce because nitrates used in farming get washed out to sea. Sea lettuce becomes dangerous when it washes up on beaches because its decay produces hydrogen sulphide and other gases. Prolonged exposure to the gases can cause nausea, altered breathing, and eventually death.

Accusations about a public health scandal intensified in 1989 when an emergency doctor in Lannion, Brittany, questioned the cause of death of a jogger. His body was found tangled up in a mass of seaweed on the beach at Saint-Michel-en-Greve, with the whistleblower complaining the autopsy results were never made public.

The problem is now thought to be getting far worse because of compounds full of nitrogen caused by industrial farming. They build up in excrement from the animals on pig and poultry farms, and then wash out to sea where algae builds up before ending up back on beaches as a green tide. Workmen tasked with cleaning up the algae are also known to have become extremely ill. [Perhaps these individuals should be provided with protective equipment. - ProMED Mod.TG]

A runner collapsed and died in Jersey in 2017 after training on a Brittany beach covered in rotting seaweed where some 36 boars had also suddenly died. Nine experts, including 4 toxicologists, said seaweed was to blame, and now environmentalists are calling for all such suspicious deaths to be investigated. Ines Leraud, a French author who has carried out extensive work on the subject, said: "There should be systematic tests, just as there are tests for alcohol when there is a road accident."  [byline: Peter Allen]
[Sea lettuce (_Ulva lactuca_)
- Appearance: green seaweed, sheetlike in appearance. Can be white or black when dry. Ranges in size from 6 inches to 2 feet.
- Habitat: high and low intertidal zones; water to 75 feet deep.
- Seasonal appearance: all year, with large blooms in the summer.
- Description: sea lettuce is a bright green algae composed of lobed, ruffle-edged leaves that are coarse and sheetlike and resemble a leaf of lettuce. The leaves may appear flat, thin, broad, and often rounded or oval. Its leaves are often perforated with holes of various sizes. Almost no stalk exists at the point of attachment, and no true roots are present. When dried by the sun, its color can range from white to black.

Sea lettuce may be found attached to rocks and shells by a holdfast, but it is also commonly found free floating. Among the most familiar of the shallow water seaweeds, sea lettuce is often found in areas of exposed rocks and in stagnant tide pools. Sea lettuce has also been recorded at depths of 75 feet [25 metres] or more. Sea lettuce grows in both high and low intertidal zones and marshes throughout the year.

Tolerant of nutrient loading that would suffocate many other aquatic plants, it can actually thrive in moderate levels of nutrient pollution. Large volumes of sea lettuce often indicate high levels of pollution. Growth is also stimulated by the presence of other pollutants. It is often found in areas where sewage runoff is heavy. As a result, sea lettuce is used as an indicator species to monitor pollution trends. The density and location of this alga can often indicate the presence of high amounts of nutrients.

- In areas where there is a high concentration or "bloom" of sea lettuce, sunlight is unable to reach submerged vegetation such as eelgrass, preventing photosynthesis and often killing the vegetation below.
- When sea lettuce dies, bacteria feeding on the decomposing sea lettuce use up a tremendous amount of oxygen in the water. This, in turn, depletes the oxygen available to other species, suffocating or driving them away.
- Masses of sea lettuce can hamper swimmers and foul lines and fishing nets, but it does provide a home to some small invertebrates such as amphipods.
- Like lettuce grown on land, it can be used in salads and soups. Sea lettuce is also used to make ice cream, other food products, and medicine.
(Source: <>)

Decomposing piles of sea lettuce could easily produce hydrogen sulfide, with a characteristic smell of rotten eggs. Rotting organic material, under the correct conditions, can produce this lethal gas. Often times, victims are believed to die of heart attack unless a thorough investigation/autopsy is performed.

Hydrogen sulfide has many synonyms including dihydrogen sulphide, sulphur hydride, sulphurated hydrogen, hydrosulphuric acid, "sewer gas", "swamp gas", hepatic acid, sour gas, and "stink damp".

Hydrogen sulphide (H2S) is a colourless, highly flammable and explosive gas produced naturally by decaying organic matter and by certain industrial processes. Hydrogen sulfide has a characteristic rotten-egg odor. (Source: <>)

Persistent exposure to air concentrations above 100 ppm produces olfactory fatigue, which impairs the ability to detect the characteristic odor of rotten eggs (12).

H2S is responsible for many incidents of occupational toxic exposure, especially in the petroleum industry. The clinical effects of H2S depend on its concentration and the duration of exposure. H2S is immediately fatal when concentrations are over 500-1000 ppm, but exposure to lower concentrations, such as 10-500 ppm, can cause various respiratory symptoms that range from rhinitis to acute respiratory failure. H2S may also affect multiple organs, causing temporary or permanent derangements in the nervous, cardiovascular, renal, hepatic, and hematological systems.

Injury due to H2S exposure occurs primarily by inhalation. Once absorbed, the compound is distributed in the blood and taken up by the brain, liver, kidney, pancreas, and small intestines. Sulfur compounds are severely irritating to the respiratory tract, leading to rhinorrhea, sneezing, sore throat, wheezing, shortness of breath, chest tightness, hemoptysis, and a feeling of suffocation (1). Sulphur compounds can cause leucopenia and neutropenia (9,13), as well as cardiac injury with elevation of troponin I and creatine kinase (9,10). The mechanism of H2S toxicity is related to inhibition of oxidative phosphorylation, which causes a decrease in the available cellular energy. A phenomenon referred to as "knockdown" was reported in oil field workers to describe a sudden, brief loss of consciousness associated with amnesia, followed by immediate full recovery. This phenomenon usually occurs after short-term exposure to very high concentrations of H2S (17). (Source: <>; see URL for complete list of references, including those cited here.) - ProMED Mod.TG]

[HealthMap/ProMED-mail map of Bretagne [Brittany], France:
Date: Fri 5 Jul 2019
Source: Ouest France [in French, trans. Corr.SB, edited]

The tiger mosquito has already colonized 51 French departments. According to Mosquito Vigilance, most departments that go on orange alert to the tiger mosquito then go on red alert.

The tiger mosquito, which arrived in France in 2004, is now established in 51 departments. It can carry diseases such as dengue, chikungunya, and Zika virus.

The tiger mosquito, or _ Aedes albopictus_, is a species capable of transmitting diseases such as dengue and chikungunya. It is a vector of the Zika virus. It has continued its progression in metropolitan France since 2004, the date of its 1st appearance in the southeast.

It was permanently established in 51 departments in 2018 versus 42 a year earlier, the Ministry of Health said. It is gaining more territory without ever leaving the colonized regions. Essentially urban, it likes places inhabited by humans.

The Mosquito Vigilance network classified French departments into 3 categories: in red vigilance, 42 departments where the tiger mosquito is established and active, in orange vigilance, 18 departments where it was intercepted during the last 5 years, in yellow, 34 departments that are on watch.

According to Mosquito Vigilance , most departments that go into orange alert then go on red alert.  In the west, after the Vendee, it is considered to be permanently settled in Maine-et-Loire and Loire-Atlantique. It is also well established in Paris.

The mere presence of the mosquito does not cause the appearance of the diseases of which it is the vector. The transmission is done when a "healthy" tiger mosquito bites a person who has been infected during a stay outside mainland France. The insect then becomes a carrier of the virus and can transmit it to a healthy person who has not lived outside the territory.

The high temperatures of recent days lead to the proliferation of the tiger mosquito, particularly in the Provence-Alpes-Cote-d'Azur region (PACA), where the Regional Health Agency (ARS) has identified 18 dengue cases and one possible case of chikungunya [virus infection] at the end of June 2019.  "These are only imported cases, not indigenous," says the ARS, which warns, however: "What may happen is that these tiger mosquitoes bite carriers of the virus and infect other people." The ARS advises limiting the proliferation of the tiger mosquitoes.

The 1st cases of autochthonous infection appeared in metropolitan France in 2010, with 2 cases of dengue in the Alpes-Maritimes and 2 cases of chikungunya in the Var. Since then, the French authorities have recorded a total of 22 cases of dengue and 31 cases of chikungunya.
[_Aedes albopictus_ has been expanding its geographic range in southern Europe for several years. The rapid expanse northward in France is noteworthy. It has gone from 41 departments reported in April of last year (2018) to the 51 departments mentioned above. The above report has a map that illustrates the departments involved that can be accessed at the above URL. The established mosquito surveillance system in France doubtless will detect further expansion, which seems likely. The risk of initiation of ongoing transmission of dengue, chikungunya, and Zika viruses following introduction from elsewhere will depend on mosquito and susceptible human population densities and the amount of time that people spend out-of-doors in areas where there is risk of bites by these mosquitoes. Eradication of this mosquito from France is not possible with current pest control measures. This will be an interesting situation to watch over the coming months and years. - ProMED Mod.TY]

[HealthMap/ProMED map available at:
France: <>]
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