Avian flu – Epidemic spreads to the Big West – News

While 4as well as An avian flu epidemic in the southwest is about to be brought under control, with farms in the Vendée and Loire-Atlantique infected, resulting in the destruction of more than 4 million poultry in the coming days. On the question: bad practice in the sector.

France has not done away with the mass slaughter of poultry … For 4as well as Since 2015, France has been facing the dreaded bird flu. This epidemic of animals is destroying poultry farms, directly through a virus threatening to gallins (currently harmless to humans), but above all indirectly due to eradication measures.

It all started at the end of November 2021 with a sporadic case in a laying hen in the department of Nord. The breeders held their breath for two weeks. And in mid-December, another case was identified at a farm of ready-to-force-feed ducks in Gers, the first in a long line in the Southwest. Measures to contain the birds proved insufficient, and the virus quickly spread in the area with a high density of foie gras ducks.

The virus jumps from the southwest to the Vendée

Therefore, the Ministry of Agriculture decided to use its last resort – preventive slaughter. From January 20 to the end of February, 1.25 million animals were killed, including 900,000 poultry and 350,000 ducks. These slaughterhouses have now been completed in the southwest and it is time to repopulate with chickens and ducklings … Except that some of them come from hatcheries established in the Pays de la Loire, where the resurgence of the disease was exactly announced. at the end of February!

Several cases have been reported in the Vendée and later in the Loire-Atlantique. “There is currently a rapid spread of the HPAI virus [Influenza aviaire hautement pathogène ou grippe aviaire, ndlr] ». According to the Ministry of Agriculture on March 11, about 1.2 million animals have already been slaughtered, another 3 million are to be slaughtered in the coming days. “The task is to clear the territory at the end of April,” says the ministry. This region is critical for the poultry industry as it “many breeding farms and many hatcheries from all sectors of the poultry industry”. However, the Ministry of Agriculture wants to reassure: “to date, there is no risk of supply disruption” in the poultry industry on the French market.

Bad practices persist

How could this epidemic have spread, despite all the sanitary measures taken by government agencies? “The reasons for the rapid spread are being assessed by the National Food, Environment, and Occupational Health and Safety (ANSES) Agency.” by next week, the ministry soberly points out. Among the hypotheses mentioned “Gusts of wind, biosecurity defects, gradual spread”…Some would like to believe in the responsibility of the wild. So, interprofessional foie gras, Cifog, mentions “upward migrations of wild birds”. The professional even speculates that contaminated wild bird droppings accidentally entered the vent of a livestock building in the Vendée. You just have to aim…

Another way is to carry the virus through material, under the soles of personnel or under the wheels of trucks that transport poultry for slaughter or chickens from one end of the country to the other. But this incriminates the practice of the sector. The professional meeting report also highlights a number of irregularities that persist despite crises: poor sanitation protocol, stocking density still too high, long distance transport of poultry, which can spread the disease from one department to another. other (1)… No changes in the farming model have been applied since previous epidemics, despite their financial costs (more than 150 million euros). What will happen this time? The ministry responds that “All preventive decisions must be considered [avec la profession] at the end of the crisis.

For Paysanne Confédération, the solution includes a lower truss density. The agricultural union is promoting a model of small, open-air family farms, still numerous but weakened by successive containment and slaughter measures.

Regulated areas associated with outbreaks and wild cases of HPAI detected in France on 08/03/2022 (source of the Ministry of Agriculture)

(1) Force-fed ducks may change their place of residence several times during their lifetime, moving from the hatchery to the breeding farm and then to the force-fed operation.

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