A second case of bird flu has been confirmed in France. The virus was found in the carcass of a wild duck, only 80 kilometres away from the first diagnosis of the disease in the department of Ain. French producers have already been told to bring their birds indoors. Almost a million geese and ducks which can’t be protected in sheds are being vaccinated.
The plans, the EU’s first preventative measures, have been approved by Brussels. “I’m happy with the decision of the EU,” said French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin while on a morale-boosting visit to the region, “since we had asked about the possibility to vaccinate as necessary. It concerns around 900 thousand poultry. So its a major plan we’re putting in place.”
Despite high-profile efforts at reassurance, confidence in poultry products in France is plunging. Recent research shows that supermarket sales of chicken have dropped by up to a third compared to last year. Austria is the only European country so far to detect bird flu in domestic fowl. Two chickens and three ducks in an animal sanctuary in Graz have been affected.
There has been better news, though, from the Far East. India and Malaysia have confirmed that 12 people treated for suspected bird flu have been given the all clear. India is coping with its first outbreak of the disease in birds. There are fears that an outbreak in the region could spread quickly, as hundreds of millions of people live in rural areas, in close proximity to livestock and domestic fowl.