A much heavier toll than in previous years due to an unprecedented outbreak in the Pays de la Loire region. Ten million poultry have been slaughtered in France since November to stem bird flu, we learned on Wednesday March 23 from the Ministry of Agriculture. This episode is the most severe that the country has known, accustomed to seeing cases concentrated in farms in the South West.
Since the first case identified in the north of France at the end of November, nearly a thousand farms have been infected with the virus, including at least 450 in Vendée, where the authorities are in the process of emptying poultry farms by mass slaughter of sick – but also healthy – animals preventively.
In a few weeks, the toll in this hitherto unscathed department has become much heavier than that of Landes (231), a production area regularly affected since 2015. The number of cases is also increasing in the departments bordering Vendée: 70 in Loire-Atlantique, 58 in Maine-et-Loire.
The Pays de la Loire region hard hit
Nearly half of the ten million animals slaughtered in France due to this crisis come from the Pays de la Loire region, the second largest production territory for French poultry after Brittany, where two cases have also recently been identified. Ordinarily, crises linked to avian influenza remain generally confined to the South-West, in particular to duck farms intended for the production of foie gras. Last year, nearly 500 outbreaks were recorded in farms and 3.5 million animals, mainly ducks, slaughtered.
According to the latest bulletin from the national animal health epidemiological surveillance platform (ESA), the farms affected in Pays de la Loire are ” principally “ from “web-footed farms (fat or lean), but a wide variety of production types are affected: mule ducks, Pekin ducks, Barbary ducks, turkeys, quails, pheasants, broiler chickens, laying hens. Breeding farms are also affected..
In the Southwest, the number of households “stabilizing, although new sporadic foci of infection are still being detected”says the same source.
A total of 34 European countries have been affected by the virus this year. In addition to French farms, those in northern Italy were particularly affected, with 18 million poultry slaughtered.