The level of risk linked to avian flu in the French metropolitan territory was raised on Tuesday from “moderate” to “high”, according to texts published in the Official Journal. The measure, which provides in particular for the confinement of poultry, was taken “considering the confirmation of several outbreaks in breeding” and “the dynamics of infection in migration corridors and the possibility of dissemination of the virus by these migratory birds”, according to the decree, which comes into force immediately.
The epizootic risk to which poultry and other captive birds are exposed in the event of infection of wild birds with a highly pathogenic avian influenza virus (HPAI) is classified into three categories: “negligible”, “moderate” and “high” . This risk was lowered to “negligible” in July and raised to “moderate” at the end of November after the detection of an outbreak of avian flu on a turkey farm in Morbihan, the first case of autumn 2023 in France.
Before that, France had remained at a “high” risk level between November 2022 and April 2023. Avian flu, which is prevalent in Europe, Asia, Africa and Asia, has led to the euthanasia of tens of millions of poultry in recent years in France.
In the hope of finally controlling the virus, the government has made vaccination against avian flu compulsory in farms with more than 250 ducks, excluding breeding ducks, since October 1. Ducks have been identified as a vector for the spread of the virus as they excrete it into the environment several days before showing symptoms.
According to the latest weekly bulletin (of November 28) from the French animal health epidemiological surveillance platform, 77 outbreaks of avian flu in poultry have been detected in Europe since August 1, mainly in Hungary and the United Kingdom, compared to 48 the previous week.
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In total, 27 countries have detected avian influenza on their territory, according to the same source. “The active downward migration routes of wild birds in Europe are highly contaminated” and these detections are located “directly upstream of the migration routes concerning France”, notes the bulletin.