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The French Agriculture Ministry has informed this Friday that the bird flu alert level has been raised after a highly pathogenic form of the virus has been detected. Backyard poultry in the northeast of the country has tested positive for the virus, close to the border with Belgium and Luxembourg where other reports of disease have been issued.
The highly pathogenic H5N8 strain of bird flu that hit hard poultry productions in Europe and Asia since 2020 was detected now among ducks, hens, turkeys, and pigeons that belong to a household in the Ardennes region of northeast France. As a precautionary measure, all animals were slaughtered. This report comes only a couple of days after France self-declared free of bird flu.
“The health situation regarding highly pathogenic avian influenza is worrying. Since Aug. 1, 25 cases have been detected in Europe among wild and captive birds,” the ministry said in a statement.
The ministry added that in past days, two cases of H5N8 were detected in Belgium and Luxembourg. In Belgium, one case was identified at a bird merchant and one at a private home. Another case was reported in Luxembourg which was linked to the merchant in Belgium.
The latest cases involving the H5N8 strain of bird flu had prompted France to increase its risk assessment to “moderate” from “negligible”, which would lead to poultry being confined indoors in some areas, it said.
The ministry has also informed that this outbreak will not affect the bird flu-free status the country recently obtained again after a previous wave of H5N8 bird flu.
Markets are waiting for different measures that can be imposed by importing countries mainly in Asia, as observed during the previous outbreaks in 2020 and 2021. To date, France has culled more than three million birds in a duck-breeding region in an attempt to stop the spread of the virus.
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