Don’t panic. That was the message from the European Union to its trading partners today as the fallout continued over a bird flu outbreak in France.
Japan has temporarily banned all French poultry imports after the deadly H5N1 strain of the virus hit a farm in eastern France – the first case in domestic farm birds in the EU. It has also threatened to slap a similar ban on the Netherlands, sending a chill through Europe’s multi-billion euro poultry industry. The EU trade commissioner has urged trading partners not to overreact. Most European countries now have confirmed cases of H5N1, mostly in wild birds.Experts fear domestic fowl in more regions could soon be infected. In northern Germany, searches for dead wild birds are being stepped up after a wild duck and a swan found dead near the Polish border tested positive for bird flu. Authorities are calling for calm, stressing that the virus is still difficult for humans to catch.