France - Birdflu

France confirms bird flu outbreak on duck farm, amid fears of mass cull

Breeders in the South-West were struck twice, during the winters of 2015-2016 and 2016-2017, by bird flu epizootics
Breeders in the South-West were struck twice, during the winters of 2015-2016 and 2016-2017, by bird flu epizootics © GAIZKA IROZ / AFP
Text by: David Coffey with RFI
3 min

The French Ministry of Agriculture has announced an outbreak of the highly contagious H5N8 bird flu on a duck farm in the south-west, confirming France's first farm outbreak of the virus this year.

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The new cases of bird flu were first reported on Monday but at the time it was unclear what strain of the virus it was.

Bird flu has been spreading rapidly across Europe, putting the poultry industry on high alert after previous outbreaks led to the culling of tens of millions of birds.

"The ANSES national reference laboratory confirmed (on Tuesday) the infection of a farm of 6,000 ducks by the H5N8 virus in the municipality of Benesse-Maremne (Landes region), in which high mortality was observed on 5 December," the ministry said on Twitter.

A security zone was set up around the farm on 7 December, implying extra monitoring, a ban on the move of poultry and additional sanitary measures. 

All the ducks on the farm have been culled.

France has already detected the H5N8 virus on birds sold in three pet stores, with investigators finding that the wild birds had reportedly been sold by the same person in the north of the country.

In addition, three wild swans and one wild goose found dead last week have also been confirmed as carrying the H5N8 virus.

The spread of the virus in Europe prompted France to raise its bird flu security alert to "high" in early November, which requires keeping birds indoors or installing protective netting to prevent contact with wild birds that spread the disease.

The agriculture ministry has, however, stressed that bird flu cannot be passed through the eating of poultry products and the H5N8 virus has never been detected in humans.

(with wires)

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