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France - Bird Flu

France culls more than 200,000 ducks in order to stave off bird flu

Hundreds of thousands of ducks and geese have been killed in France since 1 January, 2021, when 61 cases of highly contagious bird flu was detected.
Hundreds of thousands of ducks and geese have been killed in France since 1 January, 2021, when 61 cases of highly contagious bird flu was detected. REUTERS/Regis Duvignau
3 min

France’s agricultural ministry has reportedly culled more than 200,000 ducks throughout the country—many used for foie gras—in an effort to curb H5N8 bird flu, the ministry said on Tuesday.

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Some 100,000 ducks were in the contamination zone, while another 104,000 were culled on nearby farms in a bid to prevent the spread, according to the ministry.

“There are still another 400,000 to be slaughtered as a preventative measure,” says Loic Evan, the head of the ministry’s veterinary health department.

Some 61 outbreaks of avian flu have been logged in France since 1 January, including 48 in the southeastern Landes region, where a number of duck and goose farms producing foie gras are located.

Officials worked to cull birds within a one kilometer radius of any outbreaks to ensure it would not be spread.

“We are dealing with an exceptional episode of a highly contagious virus [that] affects open-air farms.” said Evan. “But it's not only those. If the virus continues to spread, we’ll have to take more drastic measures,” he warned.

"It is urgent that the state reinforce its actions on the ground, in collaboration with the industry, to act as closely and as quickly as possible," said General Confederation of Aviculture (CFA), in conjunction with the National Federation of Farmers Unions (FNSEA).

Other agricultural unions, such as Peasant Confederation and MODEF, condemned the preventative killing of the ducks, saying it was “very inefficient from the health point of view and morally unacceptable,” it said in a statement.

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