France Begins Pre-emptive Slaughter to Stop Bird Flu Spread

FRANCE - France’s poultry industry has been hard hit by outbreaks of a particularly aggressive type of avian influenza, as they have been centred once again on the south-western fois gras-producing region that suffered the most from outbreaks of several different bird flu types during the winter of 2015-16.
calendar icon 6 January 2017
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As of 4 January, 89 outbreaks of the highly pathogenic H5N8 virus have been found in France, necessitating the culling of thousands of birds. Whilst in some areas the spread of disease has been stabilised, particularly in the departments of Tarn, Aveyron and Lot-et-Garonne, a government announcement said the areas with the latest outbreaks have not yet stabilised.

The government has announced a new eradication strategy to combat the disease, involving culling all waterfowl with access to the outdoors in some key regions in Gers, Landes and Hautes Pyrénées. Other waterfowl reared in buildings and chickens or turkeys will not be affected.

The idea behind this culling operation is to remove the population of the types of birds that have been most affected by the disease from infected regions, so the disease has nowhere to spread to. Following the slaughter, roads and buildings in these areas will be cleaned and disinfected.

The government announcement highlighted the urgency of the situation and said all culling measures would be complete by 20 January, and the cost of the depopulation operation will be financed by the state.

The virus has infected several new countries in the past two weeks, including the Czech Republic, Ireland Slovakia, Greece and Bulgaria. Several different strains of avian influenza have also been circulating in Asian countries, including South Korea, where millions of birds have been culled to curb the disease.

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