Published: 07 Feb 2013 14:48 GMT+01:00 | Print version
Updated: 07 Feb 2013 17:28 GMT+01:00
The shock death of an athletic 23-year-old man from the flu virus has intensified anxieties in France on Thursday, as the country enters the fourth month of a deadly epidemic.
It took four days of suffering before Arnaud Bigerel finally succumbed to the flu on Sunday afternoon in his parents’ home in Val-et-Châtillon, near the northern French city of Metz.
His distraught parents are struggling to comprehend how a fit young man could fall victim to a common virus that comes and goes every winter. According to the family of the young postman, medical professionals repeatedly dismissed their concerns about the severity of the symptoms between the onset of his illness on January 30th and his death on February 3rd
“They did not take the flu seriously, but it kills," said Bigerel’s father, in an interview with RTL radio on Thursday.
Even after a sudden and brutal deterioration in his condition on Sunday, and despite making ‘three or four’ emergency calls that day, the young man’s desperate father was told “Don’t worry, it’s not serious, it’s just the flu,” according to a report on TF1 television.
By the time an ambulance finally arrived at the family home, Bigerel had lost consciousness, and his heart had stopped. He died of heart failure at around 4.30pm.
'Anyone at risk should seek medical help as soon as possible'
The death of a seemingly healthy young man from a common virus has made the headlines and increased concerns in France over the ongoing flu epidemic that has gripped the country.
France’s flu epidemic has been intense this winter. Since November 1st, 25 deaths have been recorded throughout the country and 236 cases have been serious enough to warrant treatment in an intensive care unit.
The virus continues to spread, with Paris and the Ile de France region one of the worst hit. The French Institute for Public Health Surveillance described the epidemic as "intense" and noted a steep rise in the number of people admitted to hospital, particularly young children.
"We've got a special situation this year because there have been outbreaks of three different strains of flu," Dr Anne Mosnier, national coordinator of the Regional Organization for the Observation of Flu (GROG), told The Local on Thursday.
Mosnier said that in deadly cases, the virus can take hold so quickly that it is impossible to treat.
"People in France tend to visit their doctor more than in other countries, so it can make it more difficult for medics to determine how serious a case is," Mosnier said.
"In general, though, anyone in an at-risk group – the elderly, young children, those with underlying conditions like pneumonia, or cardiac or respiratory problems – should always seek attention as soon as they experience flu symptoms," she said.
People not in the at-risk groups, however, should pay attention to any shift from standard flu symptoms – coughing, fatigue and a fever – to more serious ones, said the expert in epidemics.
"Chest pain and breathing difficulty, they're not normal symptoms for anyone, and if you experience them, you should see a doctor right away," said Mosnier.
When it comes to fighting off the invasion of English words the French Resistance has had mixed fortunes over the years. Nevertheless the fight goes on. With the help of the Ministry of Culture here's a list of the latest English terms that French authorities want deported. READ () »
The streets of Paris are getting a reputation for being unsafe for tourists and this is a threat to business for the great brand names of French fashion, a top body representing the luxury industry warned on Friday. READ () »
Rights watchdog Amnesty International has filed its end of year report on French President François Hollande's record on tackling human rights issues. Its conclusion was: Could do better. READ () »
The dangerous craze of ‘train surfing', which has long been popular in Russia, came to France this week and ended in tragic circumstances. A young man who was reportedly riding the roof of a Paris Metro was killed when the train entered a tunnel. READ () »
The purchase of the famous upmarket French department store Printemps by investors from Qatar needs to be investigated by authorities for possible corruption, money laundering and tax fraud, unions demanded this week. READ () »
The proposal was labelled by critics as another example of France's Socialist government attacking the richest. But after a u-turn announced on Friday the plan to limit executive pay in the private sector will not now see the light of day. READ () »
It could easily be the script of a grisly horror movie. Police arrested a man in Nice this week, suspected of chopping up his 95-year-old grandmother. According to sources the suspect admitted to having eaten part of the body. READ () »
IMF chief Christine Lagarde is spending a second day being questioned by French prosecutors on Friday as part of a probe into a €400 million state payout to disgrace businessman Bernard Tapie. If Lagarde is charged she could be forced to quit the IMF. READ () »
At least 20 people were killed and several trainee officers taken hostage when Islamist militants carried out twin bombings on a French-run nuclear plant in Niger. The attack was claimed by the group Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO). READ () »
Not everyone gets the chance to party with the stars at the Cannes festival for two days, unless that is, you are the French double of 'Gangnam style' entertainer Psy and you have the nerves of steel to pretend to be him. Meet Denis Carre our undisputed French Face of the Week. READ () »