French bird flu outbreak spreads to new region

French bird flu outbreak spreads to new region

PARIS (Reuters) – France detected a case of highly pathogenic bird flu in the Pyrenees-Atlantiques region on Friday, taking to five the number of regions affected by the outbreak in the country's southwest.

H5N9 avian influenza was confirmed on a farm with 1,500 ducks in the village of Arroses, the agriculture ministry said in an update on its website.

It is the 13th case in an outbreak that started with the detection of H5N1 bird flu in Dordogne on Nov. 24. The cases are the first known ones in France in eight years.

The outbreak is affecting France's main foie gras producing region just before demand peaks over the year-end holiday season, although the authorities have stressed there is no evidence that bird flu can be transmitted to humans via food.

However, France is facing restrictions on poultry products as well as live birds from trading partners including Japan, the world's largest importer of French foie gras.

The discovery in France of several bird flu strains in a short space of time is unusual yet unlikely to turn into a crisis as in the United States, where millions of poultry were culled this year, the head of World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) told Reuters on Thursday.

(Reporting by Gus Trompiz & Sybille de La Hamaide, editing by David Evans)

Source: “Reuters”