France responds to surge in bird flu cases in poultry

After a second consecutive year of heavy losses in the poultry sector due to highly pathogenic avian flu, France introduced strict biosecurity measures early for next season. Due to the rapidly evolving highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) situation in France, the Department of Agriculture raised the disease alert level from ‘low’ to ‘moderate’ late last week. Precautionary measures are being reintroduced due to rising mortality in both farmed and wild birds.

Unlike in previous years, new cases continued to be reported in France during these months, but cases fell to lower levels during the summer. Wild bird deaths rose to “hundreds” even before reaching 200,000, the ministry reports. Of particular concern are the 18 confirmed outbreaks on French poultry farms since August (as of 29 September). According to the ministry, 11 sectors of birds have been affected, indicating the persistence of the H5N1 HPAI virus serotype in the environment.

Last week, the European Commission announced that from 2022 would pay €15.4 million ($15.1 million) in state aid from the French government to poultry farmers affected by HPAI during the 2023 season. approved.

Francis Introduces New Disease Control Zone

New French control measures include a requirement to keep poultry in high-risk areas. This includes marshes and wetlands crossed by migratory corridors, particularly in areas with high poultry densities, which are home to waterfowl such as ducks and geese. In addition, these regions are stepping up testing with farmed waterfowl.

In addition to a 3km protection zone and a 10km surveillance zone around each outbreak, there are additional requirements within a 10-20km radius of the outbreak. Poultry in this area should be fenced and his HPAI screened regularly. Additionally, birds are only permitted to be kept after the facility has passed a biosecurity audit.

Finally, a 20 km temporary control zone will be established around all HPAI cases in wildlife. Poultry should be kept within this range and undergo additional his HPAI testing.

Since his first HPAI case in France in November 2021, his 1,393 outbreaks associated with H5N1 virus variants have been officially reported to the World Organization for Animal Health (WOAH). More than 16 million domestic poultry, 2,000 backyard birds and 1,000 wild birds were directly affected.

In the last three weeks alone, ten farm outbreaks affecting more than 198,000 birds have been confirmed to WOAH by French veterinary authorities. HPAI cases in poultry are on the rise in Western European countries.

HPAI is not just a problem for France.

In the last three weeks, his WOAH from the Netherlands reported eight new outbreaks of him in poultry totaling over 400,000.

In Lower Saxony, Germany, nearly 87,000 poultry have been affected by his four new outbreaks.

In the UK, there were four outbreaks in September, increasing to a total of 101 birds in the last ten months, and the number of domestic poultry directly affected by mortality and preventive culling is now over 3 million. increase. Recently, approximately 213,000 poultry on three farms in the Belgian town of East Flanders tested positive for the H5N1 HPAI virus.

In Spain, the virus was detected in two other flocks of approximately 752,000 total laying hens at the beginning of September. Affected farms in Guadalajara, Castile-La Mancha. These were his first H5N1 cases in this central Spanish autonomous community.

The first of his HPAI outbreaks were reported from Italy and Poland in the fall/autumn. Italian veterinary authorities registered the first outbreak of the season with WOAH in September, after the previous HPAI series was declared over in April this year. The presence of the H5N1 virus serotype was confirmed after he killed 10 birds on a farm in northwestern Veneto.

In Poland, it took just over a month from the end of his initial series of HPAI outbreaks to the detection of his first H5N1 cases in the central province of Lodz.

Increased mortality was observed among 1,643 meat geese and 43 chickens on infected farms, according to the country’s premier veterinary agency.

As of 25 September, there have been 1,844 outbreaks of his HPAI.

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