France finds bird flu on farm in setback for exports
France reported a severe case of bird flu yesterday on a duck farm in the southwest, another setback for French poultry and foie gras exports which were hit by a similar outbreak a year ago. The H5N8 avian influenza virus was confirmed at a farm in the Tarn region, the agriculture ministry said, days after the virus was detected among wild birds in northern France and following outbreaks in Europe linked to migrating birds.
The H5N8 virus has never been detected in humans, unlike some other strains, but it led to the culling of millions of farm birds in Asia in 2014 before spreading to Europe. The new case means France, the European Union’s biggest poultry breeder, will not be able to regain for now its international status as being free of the highly pathogenic flu.
It had aimed to recover that status on Dec. 3 had no further cases been found, the ministry said in a statement. Now it won’t be cleared for at least another 90 days, delaying a return to normal trade with countries such as Japan that imposed blanket bans on French poultry products during the previous wave of outbreaks. “The immediate consequence is regarding the bird flu-free status,” Marie-Pierre Pe, spokeswoman for foie gras makers’ group CIFOG, said. “This outbreak puts back by four months the possible reopening of trade barriers.”