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Avian flu strikes a first French poultry farm

Avian flu, already spotted among wild birds and in some French backyards, affected a first commercial breeding of laying hens, in the north of the country, a new blow for the poultry sector.

“While avian influenza viruses are actively circulating in Europe through migratory birds, France detected on November 26 an outbreak due to a highly pathogenic strain (HPAI) in a laying hen farm located in the commune of Warhem, in the department of the North »the Ministry of Agriculture announced in a press release on Saturday.

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It is the H5N1 virus, said the minister’s office interviewed by AFP.

With this case in a farm, France loses its status again “unscathed” of avian influenza, which she had just found on September 2, confirmed the same source. This should have “consequences on certain export markets” of his poultry.

“Steps have been initiated via the embassies to reassure the main importing countries of the sporadic nature at this stage of this event and the implementation of the usual management measures as provided for by European Union regulations”adds the cabinet of Julien Denormandie.

France had already declared since the end of the summer four cases of bird flu among wild birds and three cases in backyards on metropolitan territory.

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In Europe, 26 countries are currently affected by influenza viruses, involving more than 400 outbreaks in livestock and 600 cases in wildlife, specifies the ministry.

The suspicion of infection in the Warhem farm follows the observation of abnormal mortality among the poultry on the farm. The complete analysis of the strain of the virus is currently underway at the national reference laboratory of ANSES, the French health authority.

“Meat consumption poses no risk to humans”

Sanitary measures have been taken. The hens will be slaughtered and the home will be disinfected. A protection zone (3 km around the outbreak) and a surveillance zone (10 km) have been established by the prefect of the department. To avoid the risk of spreading the virus, poultry movements are prohibited in these areas where strict sanitary measures must be observed.

“The consumption of meat, foie gras and eggs – and more generally of any poultry-based food product – does not present any risk to humans”says the ministry.

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In early November, as a precautionary measure, the government decided to reconfine free-range poultry to avoid contact with migratory birds likely to transmit this virus.

Last winter, avian influenza spread like wildfire in farms in the Southwest, a region renowned for its foie gras. Nearly 500 had been affected between November 2020 and May 2021.

The epizootic was only halted at the cost of the slaughter of more than 3.5 million poultry, mainly ducks.

400 outbreaks in livestock and 600 cases in wildlife

Recurring health crises due to highly pathogenic avian influenza generate considerable costs for professionals and the State, and loss of export market.

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However, for the moment, the consequences of France’s loss of its status “unscathed” bird flu “should not go beyond what was noted last year”according to the firm of Julien Denormandie: “We have the assurance that a certain number of countries will continue to accept the introduction of French productions from other departments, thanks to what is called the recognition of zoning. »

France has spotted an outbreak of avian flu in a poultry farm in the Nord department, the first outbreak in breeding highlighted since the epizootic of last winter, announced Saturday the Ministry of Agriculture.

As a result, it loses its status “unscathed” avian influenza, the ministry told AFP. This may have consequences on export outlets for its poultry.

“While avian influenza viruses are actively circulating in Europe through migratory birds, France detected an outbreak on 26 November due to a highly pathogenic strain in a laying hen farm located in the commune of Warhem, in the department of the North »the ministry said in a statement.

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The suspicion of infection follows an observation of abnormal mortalities among the poultry on the farm. France had already declared since the end of the summer four cases of bird flu in wildlife and three cases in poultry on the metropolitan territory. In Europe, 26 countries are currently affected by influenza viruses, involving more than 400 outbreaks in livestock and 600 cases in wildlife, specifies the ministry.

Sanitary measures have been taken. The hens will be slaughtered and the home will be disinfected. A protection zone (3 km around the outbreak) and a surveillance zone (10 km) have been established by the Prefect.

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