Bird flu reappears in a duck farm in the South-West

France now has eight cases of avian flu, including one detected in a farm in Gers, in the town of Manciet, according to data published by the Ministry of Agriculture on Friday, December 17. The South-West, with its high density of duck farms, is therefore once again affected by this epizootic, after having been severely affected in winter 2020.

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The new bird flu alert was launched by the ministry on November 27, with the first discovery of an outbreak of the highly pathogenic H5N1 virus in a professional farm. The poultry farm concerned, located in the town of Warhem (North), near the Belgian border, had 160,000 laying hens. Knowing that most European countries have been contaminated by the virus and that France had already declared 11 cases of avian influenza in wildlife and 3 in backyards since the end of the summer. The government says the virus is actively circulating through migratory birds.

After this first case in the North, other farms were affected in the heart of this same department. In total, the health services now count seven, including a farm of 24,000 turkeys and farms of 30,000 to 40,000 chickens.

Stricter containment of poultry

Now the South West is also concerned. However, this region, the epicenter of foie gras production, had been devastated by the previous epizootic. Between December 2020 and May 2021, nearly 500 farms had been contaminated and around 3.5 million birds, primarily ducks, had to be eliminated.

During this health crisis, the ax fell on outdoor farms, with the obligation to park animals in buildings. However, exemptions were in order. This time, from November 5, faced with the progression of the epizootic in neighboring countries, the Ministry of Agriculture had set the risk of avian influenza at “high”. A threshold which now forces all farmers to confine their poultry more strictly.

Two agricultural unions, the Confédération paysanne and the Movement for the Defense of Family Farmers, as well as six associations have called for the suspension of the bird flu decrees, fearing the endangering of open-air poultry farming in France. The summary hearing took place before the Council of State on Friday, December 17.