France puts country on high alert regarding bird flu
Avian influenza has led to the culling of hundreds of millions birds worldwide in recent years
PARIS (Reuters) – France raised the risk level of bird flu to 'high' from 'moderate' after the detection of new cases of the disease, the farm ministry said on Tuesday, forcing poultry farms to keep birds indoors to stem the spread of the highly contagious virus.
Avian influenza, commonly known as bird flu, has led to the culling of hundreds of millions birds worldwide in recent years. It usually strikes during autumn and winter and has been spreading in many European countries in the past weeks, including Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium.
France had said last week that it had detected a first bird flu outbreak on a farm this season in Brittany, in the northwest of the country.
The "high" risk level, which was previously set at "moderate", implies that all poultry should be kept inside on farms and additional security measures taken to avoid a spread of the disease.
Although the bird flu is harmless in food, its spread is a concern for governments and the poultry industry due to the devastation it can cause to flocks, the possibility of trade restrictions and a risk of human transmission.
BELGIUM REPORTS OUTBREAK
Belgium has reported an outbreak of highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenzaon a poultry farm in the north-western part of the country, the World Organisation for Animal Health (WOAH) said on Monday.
The outbreak, which would be the first this season, was detected in Diksmuide, not far from France. It killed 95 birds and led to the slaughter of the rest of the flock of 20,100 poultry, the Paris-based body said, quoting information from Belgian authorities.