Panic across the Channel: Macron in race against time to stop terrifying bird flu outbreak
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France is among several European countries to have reported highly contagious strains of bird flu since late last year, raising the prospector a repetition of 2016-17, when tens of millions of birds were slaughtered. The outbreak is sweeping through a duck-breeding area in a region known as the Landes, in the south west of France, where large numbers of birds have already been culled.
We need to move faster.
The outbreak is sweeping through a duck-breeding area in a region known as the Landes , in the south west of France, where large numbers of birds have already been culled.
French Agriculture Minister Julien Denormandie told radio station France Bleu Gascogne. on Friday: “We need to move faster.
“Nearly 400,000 ducks have been slaughtered in the Landes.”
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Abattoirs had been requisitioned for the purpose he said, adding: “There will be several hundred thousand more, without doubt.”
The authorities have confirmed 119 outbreaks of H5N8 bird flu in the Landes, compared with 48 as of January. 1, the agriculture ministry said.
France’s southwest is known for breeding ducks to supply the foie gras industry.
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Culling will be extended to a five-kilometre zone around the location of any outbreak, compared with 3 km previously, the ministry explained.
Bird flu outbreaks trigger trade restrictions. China this week confirmed a suspension of French poultry imports, although France is pushing for Beijing to limit restrictions to regions where outbreaks have occurred.
French farmers will be compensated for culled poultry, the agriculture ministry said.
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Lithuania has also reported an outbreak among backyard poultry, the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) said on Friday.
The outbreak, which occurred in the town of Kaunas, killed 22 poultry in the yard, with the remaining five culled, the Paris-based OIE said, citing a report from Lithuania’s agriculture ministry.
Meanwhile, the disease has also been confirmed in India.
A statement issued by the Department of Animal Husbandry said: “Till January 11, 2021, Avian Influenza has been confirmed in 10 states of the country.”
The outbreak was confirmed in seven states – Kerala, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana – as of Sunday.
It was identified in three more – Delhi, Uttarakhand and Maharashtra – today.
While deadly for birds, the H5N8 virus is not currently known to be transmitted to humans and does not make eating poultry products a risk.
However, as the coronavirus pandemic has demonstrated, viruses are quite capable of jumping from species to species, as is believed to have happened prior to the emergence of COVID-19.
The Spanish flu pandemic of 1918, which killed up to 100million people, may well have been triggered by a virus which crossed over from birds in this way.
A statement carried on the website of the World Health Organisation (WHO) says: “Animal influenza viruses are distinct from human seasonal influenza viruses and do not easily transmit between humans.
“However, zoonotic influenza viruses – animal influenza viruses that may occasionally infect humans through direct or indirect contact – can cause disease in humans ranging from a mild illness to death.”
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