Some thirty-six thousand poultry will be slaughtered following the discovery of an outbreak of avian flu “highly pathogenic type H5N1” in a farm in Céré-la-Ronde (Indre-et-Loire), announced the prefecture of Indre-et-Loire, Monday, September 19.
“As part of the measures to combat the spread of the virus, the slaughter of the animals present in the farm will be carried out as soon as possible”, said the state services in a press release. The breeder will be compensated, said the prefecture.
To avoid any risk of spreading the virus, a protection zone of 3 kilometers and a surveillance zone of 10 kilometers around the farm have been in place since Saturday. In these areas, backyard birds should be sheltered. Hunting for waterfowl and feathers is prohibited.
“The avian influenza virus is actively circulating among wild birds and its spread to domestic poultry can have significant economic and health consequences for the poultry industry”warned the prefecture.
Persistence of the virus in wild birds in Europe
Officially, in France, the level of risk is classified as “negligible”. But, at the end of the summer, the situation was unprecedented in many respects. On European coasts, new mortality was observed in July-August among seabirds (gulls, gulls, gannets), but also inland, among landbirds such as herons. The analyzes confirmed that these birds were indeed infected with the influenza A(H5N1) virus.
Until 2021, it was the winter migrations from the northern hemisphere to the south that transported avian viruses. This time, sedentary species are contaminated and cause infections in farms outside the migration season. Areas hitherto relatively spared, such as Brittany, are now very exposed, with a high risk due to the density of farms.
Another particularity: far from being confined to waterfowl, the classic hosts of avian viruses, the H5N1 line circulating this year affects all poultry species – turkeys, broiler chickens, roosters. The phenomenon knows no borders. In the United States, 45 million poultry have been infected since January, compared to 46 million in Europe (including 19.2 million in France and 13.8 million in Italy).
Established at the end of June, the latest report on avian influenza from the European Food Safety Authority concluded with an alert: the H5N1 virus “could have become endemic in wild bird populations in Europe”. Since then, summer observations have confirmed the persistence of the virus in this fauna.