Avian flu detected in France

Avian influenza has been detected in a duck farm in France’s eastern department of Ain, causing a total of 10,600 ducks to be culled, according to reports.

There are now fears that the highly pathogenic virus could spread and lead to considerable disruption the country’s agricultural sector.

The prefecture of the Ain has highlighted an outbreak of avian influenza due to a strain of the H5N1 virus in a duck farm located in Saint-Nizier-le-Desert.

An epidemiological investigation is underway as the suspicion of the bird flu infection follows the observation of abnormal mortality of the ducks in the farm.

The first cluster of the high pathogenic bird flu was found on 3 September at the duck farm.

According to the local authorities, the cluster has been “depopulated and disinfected,” and a protection zone of three km around the outbreak, a surveillance and control zone of 10 km around the outbreak has been put in place.

Since November last year, France has reported more than 1,300 clusters of high pathogenic virus and ordered the cull of 20 million birds. 

During the period from autumn 2020 to spring 2021, 500 clusters of high pathogenic bird flu were detected and 3.5 million birds were culled in the country.

“The situation is exceptional – never encountered in France before – due to its scale and the period when cases are being detected,” the French agricultural ministry said on its website, warning about the risk of contamination to poultry farms.

Avian flu is usually transmitted by infected migrating wild birds’ faeces or direct contact with contaminated feed, clothing and equipment.