Bird flu

France puts half of the country's poultry farms on high alert for bird flu

Concerns over the spread of the bird flu virus in Europe have led France to introduce precautionary measures.
Concerns over the spread of the bird flu virus in Europe have led France to introduce precautionary measures. REUTERS
3 min

France has classed half of its administrative departments as being at high risk from the bird flu virus after several cases of the disease were recently reported at farms in The Netherlands and Germany.

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Forty-five departments in France are to be classed as high risk, while the rest of the country will be on medium alert, the government said in a decree published on Thursday in its official journal.

The high alert level requires poultry farms to keep animals indoors or use protective netting to prevent them coming into contact with wild birds that spread the disease. Live poultry can no longer be sold at outdoor markets.

“The presence of the virus in wild animals near France’s borders, in a migratory channel that crosses national territory, justifies the raising of the risk level,” stated the government decree.

The measure replaces a previous decree from late October that had increased surveillance in wetland zones which attract migrating birds.

Cases in Europe

France is the latest country in Europe to bring in preventive measures to try and prevent an outbreak of the virus.

The Netherlands, Europe’s largest exporter of  chicken meat and eggs, has ordered the culling of over 200,000 chickens after a highly contagious form of bird flu - H5N8 - was found in wild mute swans on 20 October. Cases were also reported on several farms.

On Monday, Britain ordered a cull of 13,000 birds at a farm in northwest England after detecting cases there.

Germany last week reported a case of bird flu in a wild bird in the north of the country. 

Area cordoned off following an outbreak of bird flu in 2019 in France
Area cordoned off following an outbreak of bird flu in 2019 in France 法新社 / MEHDI FEDOUACH

Highly contagious

Avian influenza is a highly contagious viral disease occurring mainly in poultry and wild water birds. 

The 2016/2017 epidemic was the largest recorded outbreak to date in the EU.

In France, it decimated duck and goose flocks that are reared to produce the pate specialty foie gras.

There is no evidence to suggest avian influenza can be transmitted to humans through the consumption of contaminated poultry products. 

(with Reuters)

 

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