France confirms outbreak of highly pathogenic H5N8 bird flu on duck

The French Ministry of Agriculture said on Tuesday that highly pathogenic H5N8 bird flu had been found on a duck in the southwest of the country, confirming France’s first farm outbreak of the virus this year.

The outbreak was first reported on Monday, but at the time it was unclear which strain of the virus it was.

Bird flu has spread rapidly in Europe and put the poultry industry on alert after previous outbreaks led to the killing of tens of millions of birds.

“ANSES National Reference Laboratory today confirmed the infection of a farm of 6,000 ducks with the H5N8 virus in the municipality of Benesse-Maremne (Landes region), where high mortality was observed on December 5,” the ministry said in a statement. .

A safety zone was set up around the farm on December 7, which meant extra surveillance, a ban on the movement of poultry and further sanitary measures, the ministry said, adding that all ducks on the farm were killed.

France has already detected the H5N8 virus in birds sold in three pet stores. Investigations showed that the wild birds had been sold by the same person in northern France, the Ministry of Agriculture said last week.

In addition, three wild swans and a wild goose found dead last week have been confirmed to be carrying the H5N8 virus, the ministry said.

The spread of the virus in Europe prompted France to raise its bird flu safety alert to “high” in early November, requiring birds to be kept indoors or installing safety nets to prevent contact with wild birds spreading the disease.

The ministry stressed that bird flu cannot be transmitted by eating poultry products.

The H5N8 virus has never been detected in humans.