Avian flu: the outbreak continues, 4.6 million poultry slaughtered in six months

The results are dramatic. Bird flu continues to progress in France, and more than one million poultry had to be euthanized in a month. This brings the total toll to 4.6 million since the summer, the Ministry of Agriculture confirmed on Tuesday. The previous assessment of this epizootic (epidemic affecting animals) reported the slaughter of 3.3 million poultry on December 22.

As in the spring, the virus hit hard in the Pays de la Loire region, second territory of production of French poultry after Britain. The discovery of new cases is slowing down in this region but foci are emerging in the South-West, in particular in Landes and Gers, historic strongholds of foie gras.

In total, 286 outbreaks in livestock, including 120 in Vendée, have been identified by the authorities since August 1, the date which marks the start of the 2022-2023 epizootic. The previous wave, between the end of November 2021 and mid-May 2022, had led to the euthanasia of more than 20 million poultry in France, the worst crisis ever recorded in this sector.

Thirty European countries affected

France is far from the only country affected by the cases and the cascading slaughters. In Europe, 29 countries have detected avian flu on their soil since August 1, notes the French platform for epidemiological surveillance in animal health (ESA). More than 50 million poultry were euthanized between October 2021 and September 2022 in infected European farms, according to European health authorities. A balance sheet that does not include preventive felling healthy animals around the hearths.

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France is now the country with the most breeding households, ahead of the United Kingdom and Hungary. To limit the slaughter, the State asked to reduce the number of poultry present simultaneously in several areas of western France.

Animals were sent to the slaughterhouse early to prevent them from becoming infected and therefore lost for human consumption. Breeders must also wait before welcoming new chicks and ducklings.

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