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Avian flu has already forced the slaughter of 16 million farm birds in France

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While Spain has already had to slaughter more than 700,000 birds due to bird flu, in France the situation is much worse: it has already slaughtered 16 million farm birds to try to stem the outbreak of bird flu which has been affecting farms in the country since the end of last year, and which has hit three large areas in the west. Sources from the Ministry of Agriculture believe that there are some signs of containment of the epidemic.

However, with the data updated until last Friday, there were 1,364 outbreaks on farms, in addition to 46 cases in wildlife and another 30 in pens. It was on November 26, 2021 when the first contamination was detected in a livestock farm in France, specifically, in one of laying hens in the Nord department, next to the Belgian border. On December 16, a first outbreak was confirmed in the south-west, in a duck farm in the Gers department.

Avian flu spread in the following weeks in two areas of the New Aquitaine region, one close to the Spanish border in the Pyrénées-Atlantiques, Hautes-Pyrénées, Landes and Gers departments; and a second further north, around the Dordogne and Lot.

The third great focus, and the most important of all so far, is on the Atlantic façadein the departments of Vendée, Atlantic Loire, and in those that surround them.

Since November 5, the entire French territory has been considered to be at high risk of avian influenza due to the rapid spread of the virus throughout much of the European continent.

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This has involved the application of a series of preventive measures such as the closure of animals from commercial farmswhich can no longer go outside the farms, the prohibition of acts that involve the concentration of birds or reinforced conditions for the transport of animals.

Bird or avian influenza is the disease caused by infection with the type A avian virus. These avian influenza viruses are naturally found among wild waterfowl throughout the world and can infect domestic poultry and other birds. birds and other animal species. They do not usually infect humans. However, there have been sporadic cases of human infections with avian influenza viruses.

Situation in Spain

In Spain, at least 17 outbreaks of bird flu have been located in poultry farms. Thus, there are more than 670,000 animals that have had to be slaughtered as a preventive health measure in the face of this wave of flu on farms in our country, since the virus has a high level of contagion and lethality in these animals. At the beginning of this 2022, the H5N1 virus, responsible for avian influenza, reappeared in several outbreaks in Spain after detecting an explosion of cases in the European Union.

In Spain, infections by the avian influenza virus are considered as Diseases with Compulsory Declaration (EDO), both in the field of animal health and in human health. Due to its potential risk of causing pandemics, influenza in humans is monitored in Spain through different procedures that go beyond seasonal influenza surveillance systems.

The surveillance protocol for influenza of the National Epidemiological Surveillance Network includes the surveillance of human cases for new subtypes of influenza A that is carried out through virological surveillance, the investigation of cases of influenza that come from areas established as of risk, the appearance of cases of influenza in poultry farm workers, or the investigation of an unusual association of cases of acute respiratory illness.

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“It is very important to prevent the appearance of human cases because of the possibility that the bird flu virus could reassort with other seasonal flu viruses and generate new subtypes with pandemic potential, in addition to the risk of serious human cases. For this reason, the development of a protocol for the prevention and early detection of possible cases of transmission has been considered necessary, “he says.

Health explains that this season in Europe the epizootic in birds due to avian flu is being very intense. However, in the same period, only one mild human case of A(H5N1) virus infection in a worker at a poultry farm, detected through active surveillance in the United Kingdom, has been notified to the International Health Regulations.

“For Spain, the risk of the appearance of new HPAI outbreaks and their dissemination in birds is very high and the impact is fundamentally related to the economic losses associated with poultry farms. risk of human cases occurring is consideredNevertheless, very low for the general population, while for people in direct contact with birds, the risk is low or moderate,” they point out.

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Environment section contact: crisisclimatica@prensaiberica.es

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