At least 600,000 ducks have been slaughtered in France in the past two weeks due to an outbreak of bird flu caused by the H5N8 virus, which has continued to evolve into a worrying development.
On Monday, Agriculture Minister Julien Denormandie told local radio France Bleu Occitanie “there are six proven outbreaks in the department of Gers and 180 across the country”.
Avian influenza cannot be transmitted to humans through the consumption of meat or eggs, but it is highly contagious to birds.
In a press release, Denormandie said authorities were speeding up measures to double slaughter capacity and support pastoralists with financial compensation.
The highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) epidemic was detected for the first time in the Chalosse region in the Landes department, which has a high number of duck farms and is renowned for the production of foie gras, a gourmet dish based on foie gras from ducks or geese.
It then spread to the neighboring departments of Hautes-Pyrénées, Pyrénées-Atlantiques and Gers. To prevent its spread, the authorities announced preventive slaughter from December 24 in the five-kilometer radius of poultry and livestock farms.
Avian influenza is currently raging in the southwest region of France and parts of the United Kingdom, Germany, the Netherlands and Denmark. Similar outbreaks also occurred in France in 2015 and 2017.
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