The slaughter of thousands of farm birds in southwest France have been put to the slaughter as the country attempts to halt the spread of bird flu.
A new outbreak of bird flu has been reported in southwest France and is confirmed to be spreading across the region in a fresh blow to the country’s foie gras heartland.
France’s agriculture ministry said new cases of H5N8 avian influenza has been observed on a duck farm in the Tarn administrative department.
Local authorities in Tarn said the virus had been detected on a second farm nearby and that some 7,000 ducks were to be culled in the area.
The disease is confirmed to have spread to four other departments in southwest France after cases were discovered in Gers, Hautes-Pyrénées and Lot-et-Garonne, which neighbour Tarn.
Although this particular strain of the virus has never been detected in humans, a 2014 epidemic in Asia led to the culling of millions of farm birds.
Following the discovery of cases in wild birds in northern France a few days ago and further outbreaks across Europe, the disease has been linked to migratory birds.
Cases were discovered in gulls in Pas-de-Calais and Haute-Savoie.
The country’s poultry and foie gras producers are still reeling from a bird flu epidemic a year ago, and the latest series of cases has led to the slaughter of livestock on some farms.
Duck farmer Frédéric Florenchie said: “It is a question of re-stocking here, and it is likely to affect prices. We just don’t know yet what the economic effect will be.”
Preventative measures such as keeping commercial flocks inside are also being taken.
This is the latest set back for the country’s foie gras heartland which is still reeling from an outbreak of the H5N8 virus last year.
Producers estimate that recent measures to halt the spread of the disease have cut output of the delicacy by a quarter and driven up prices by 10 percent.
Exports of the product, made from duck or goose livers, to countries outside Europe have been banned since late 2015.