A case of avian flu was detected in a farmyard in the Ardennes, barely a week after the official announcement of the end of the influenza episode that had led to the slaughter of more than 3.5 million poultry last winter.
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Between November and May, France had identified nearly 500 outbreaks of avian influenza in poultry farms, mainly in the South-West.
The risk level for bird flu fell from “negligible” to “moderate” on Friday September 10 after the discovery of a case in a backyard in the Ardennes. “This case does not call into question the status recovered by France on September 2 as an ‘influenza-free country’,” the agriculture ministry stressed, however. Confirmed on September 9, it was detected in an individual whose poultry are not marketed.
But the danger is there. And the increase in the level of risk on “the whole of the metropolitan territory”, comes into force “immediately”, according to the order published Friday in the Official Journal.
Preventive measures have been made mandatory in municipalities located in so-called special risk areas (ZRP), that is to say, home to wetlands frequented by migratory birds – mainly bird migration corridors.
Among these measures, are imposed in particular the sheltering of poultry on farms (and no longer in the open air), the prohibition of gathering birds for competitions, or compulsory vaccination in zoos for birds. that cannot be confined or protected under a net.
These measures are intended to contain any further outbreaks after a disastrous year for duck farmers. Between November and May, France had identified nearly 500 outbreaks of avian influenza in poultry farms, mainly in the South-West, known for its production of foie gras. The crisis could only be stopped at the cost of slaughtering more than 3.5 million poultry, mostly ducks.
“No panic. This is a measure of extreme caution and precaution. It’s early, but it allows for better preparation, ”said Eric Dumas, the new president of Cifog, the association for foie gras palmipeds.
“Our DNA is the outdoors,” he recalls, while agreeing that shelter is necessary. “No one wants to relive what we went through this year.” Breeder in the Landes, a department which has concentrated, along with the Gers and the Pyrénées-Atlantiques, 95% of influenza outbreaks this winter, Eric Dumas is one of the producers who must now confine. The risk is enormous for France, by far the world number one for the production of duck foie gras.
If a new epizootic were to develop, this would imply the automatic closure of certain markets, such as China and South Korea. In the meantime, Eric Dumas is reassuring: “We want to show that we are bouncing back, we will be present” on the shelves at the end of the year. “There will be foie gras at Christmas”, he assured at the end of the week in front of journalists.
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