- Title: France starts massive duck cull to contain bird flu
- Date: 5th January 2017
- Summary: GAILLAC, FRANCE (DECEMBER 16, 2012) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF DUCKS IN FIELD PARIS, FRANCE (FILE - NOVEMBER 28, 2016) (REUTERS) VARIOUS EXTERIORS OF FRENCH AGRICULTURE MINISTRY
- Embargoed: 20th January 2017 15:18
- Keywords: bird flu ducks geese foie gras H5N8 cull
- Location: PARIS AND GAILLAC, FRANCE
- City: PARIS AND GAILLAC, FRANCE
- Country: France
- Topics: Environment,Nature/Wildlife
- Reuters ID: LVA0015XT1OP3
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: PLEASE NOTE: THE FILE VIDEO OF DUCKS WAS SHOT IN GAILLAC, AN AREA WHICH IS NOT AFFECTED BY THE CULL CAMPAIGN TODAY
France started a massive cull of ducks on Thursday (January 5) in three regions most affected by a severe outbreak of bird flu as it tries to contain the virus which has been spreading quickly over the past month.
All free range ducks, as well as geese, are to be slaughtered between Jan. 5 and approximately Jan. 20 in an area in southwestern France comprising parts of the Gers, Landes and Hautes-Pyrenees administrative departments.
France, which has the largest poultry flock in the European Union, has reported 89 outbreaks of the highly contagious H5N8 bird flu virus so far, a majority of which are in the Gers.
The decision targets up to 1.3 million ducks in the affected area but authorities hope the cull can bring a stop to the spread of the virus.
"This virus is very aggressive in poultry, the symptoms appear quickly, it impacts the nervous system, animals show very strong symptoms of inflammation. So we need to act quickly; it is a race against the virus. We know that in order to break the cycle of a virus if we eliminate the virus' host, it can't multiply and re-contaminate. So it's a strategy and we of course hope that it will be effective very quickly so as to limit the number of animals which need to be culled, but we don't really have any other solution today," said Bruno Ferreira, in charge of health issues in the supply chain at the French agriculture ministry.
Some farms will be exempted, including those which confine birds and those that perform full production cycles, from ducklings to transformation into end-products, the ministry said.
Xavier Beulin, who heads the largest farmers' union in France, says although the culling campaign was the right decision, the economic impact will be difficult to stomach.
"The decision taken yesterday (to start the massive cull) was a wise one and certainly vital; it's a tough one because of course the culling of one million ducks isn't a minor detail. There will of course be economic consequences for some farms, for those involved later in the process and a financial loss for the south west," Beulin said.
Southwestern France, home to most producers of foie gras made of duck and geese liver, was the centre of a severe outbreak of bird flu last year, although that involved other strains of the virus.
The H5N8 strain is highly deadly for poultry but has never been found in humans and cannot be transmitted through food.
Most cases in the latest bird flu outbreak in France were found in the southwest, but some were recently detected in the Deux-Sevres, a region further north where farms had last year escaped the virus.
Some infected wild birds were also found in northern France on the Channel coast, in Normandy and near the Alps.
The crisis last year, which forced foie gras producers to halt output in 18 departments, cost them 500 million euros and led to a 10 percent rise in the product's retail price.
It also led to a drop in demand for maize, a key ingredient of ducks' feed.
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