May 15, 2023
France steps up measures against bird flu in country's south west
France has reinforced sanitary measures to curb a wave of bird flu cases on duck farms in its south-west region after a recent lull in outbreaks, the French Agriculture Ministry said on May 12.
France has been among the countries worst affected by the unprecedented spread of avian influenza – commonly called bird flu – around the world in the past year.
The disease has killed hundreds of millions of birds, disrupting supply of poultry meat and eggs while prompting some countries, including France, to plan vaccination campaigns for farm flocks.
Since May 4, 21 outbreaks of highly pathogenic bird flu have been detected in south-western France, mostly among ducks, the Agriculture Ministry said.
Until the past week, France had recorded no outbreaks since March 14, leading the authorities to lower the nationwide alert level from high to moderate, the ministry said.
In the south-west, flocks in the immediate vicinity of affected farms will be culled to reduce propagation risks, while enlarged sanitary buffer zones of up to 20km have also been introduced around outbreak locations, it said.
The south-west has a large duck breeding sector for producing foie gras pate. The region was badly hit by past bird flu waves, but the ministry said it was less affected this past winter after steps to reduce the concentration of the duck population.
The latest cases underscored the relevance of vaccinating flocks, the ministry said. France launched a tender in April to secure 80 million doses to be ready to start a vaccination programme in the autumn.