Finland Gets Proactive To Protect Fur Farms

    Finland is setting is setting to become the first country in the world to offer preemptive bird flu vaccinations to workers exposed to animals. Announced on Tuesday, this initiative aims to protect those at increased risk of contracting avian influenza, particularly those working in environments prone to contact with infected wildlife.

    The Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) confirmed that vaccines for 10,000 people have been procured. This is part of a broader European Union procurement strategy, which secured up to 40 million doses for 15 nations from the Australian manufacturer CSL Seqirus. The vaccination plan involves two injections per individual and targets adults aged 18 and over who are at higher risk due to their occupation or other circumstances.

    The H5N1 strain of bird flu has lead to the death or culling of hundreds of millions of poultry. It has also begun affecting mammals, including cows in the United States and, in some cases, humans.

    Finland has decided to implement the program even though there have been no reports of human infections. The country says they are taking proactive measures due to potential risks, especially from its fur farms.

    Dr. Hanna Nohynek, Chief Physician at THL, emphasized the unique challenges Finland faces. “The conditions in Finland are very different in that we have fur farms where the animals can end up in contact with wildlife,” she stated. This concern stems from previous outbreaks among mink and foxes at these farms, resulting in the culling of approximately 485,000 animals last year to prevent further spread.

    Vaccinations are expected to begin as early as next week in selected regions of Finland. The target groups for this vaccination campaign include workers at fur and poultry farms, laboratory technicians handling bird flu samples, veterinarians in areas with fur farms, and those involved in caring for wild birds or processing animal by-products.

    Additionally, the THL has outlined that in the event of human infection, close contacts of confirmed or suspected cases will also be offered the vaccine. This comprehensive approach aims to curb any potential spread of the virus among humans and animals alike.

    They are trying really hard, folks.



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