Poultry professionals are still stunned by the episode of highly pathogenic avian influenza last winter and spring. On an unprecedented scale, it has led to the slaughter in France of 21 million animals, even in previously preserved areas such as the Vendée.
Moderate risk level
The recovery is difficult, for lack of chicks and ducklings in sufficient number to fill the farms. The state plans to pay nearly a billion euros to compensate breeders as well as industrialists who lack meat and eggs to run their factories.
“We absolutely must prevent what we experienced last spring in the Vendée from happening again. […] We are unable to support a second year like that, economically, psychologically, ”warns Yves-Marie Beaudet, himself a breeder of laying hens in the Côtes-d’Armor.
But the virus strikes again, with 18 French farms infected since August 1, according to the latest report from the Ministry of Agriculture. France has just raised the level of risk to “moderate”. The rearing of poultry in the open air is prohibited in the areas most at risk, to avoid contact with migratory birds carrying the virus.
In general, the first cases in domestic poultry are due to direct or indirect contact (excrement) with wild birds, then the virus spreads from farm to farm through the movement of animals, people and materials.
Unpublished fact: this summer, the virus did not disappear. It continued to circulate in Europe among wildlife. And decimated protected marine species, such as gannets in Brittany.
“As the autumn migration begins and the number of wild birds wintering in Europe increases”, the risk of infection with avian influenza is “probably” higher “than in previous years, due to the persistence of the virus in Europe”, underlined this week Guilhem de Seze, head of the department responsible for risk assessment at the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).
” Unprecedented “
The French platform for epidemiological surveillance in animal health (ESA) evokes in an article an “alarming situation”, the authors noting that the risks of infection “will increase sharply in the weeks to come”.