“Everyone is on high alert.” Concern for poultry farmers

Bird flu has been ravaging wild birds for several months now. In our four Breton departments and beyond, poultry farmers are concerned.

No respite for poultry farmers: The ravages of bird flu on wildlife pose a major threat to farms that haven’t had time to digest the previous episode. “Everyone is on high alert”said Yves-Marie Beaudet, president of the Egg Interprofession (CNPO), Wednesday during a press conference.

Poultry professionals are still stunned by the episode of highly pathogenic avian flu (commonly called avian flu) last winter and spring. On an unprecedented scale, it led to the slaughter in France of 21 million animals (ducks, laying hens, turkeys, etc.), even in previously preserved areas such as the Vendée.

Recovery is difficult, due to the lack of enough chicks and ducklings to fill the farms. The State intends to pay almost a billion euros to compensate creators as well as industrialists who lack meat and eggs to run their factories.

“It is absolutely necessary to prevent what we experienced last spring in Vendée from happening again.. (…) We can’t afford a second year like this, economically, psychologically.”warns Mr. Beaudet, himself a breeder of laying hens in Côtes-d’Armor.

But the virus strikes again, with 18 French farms infected since Aug. 1, according to the latest report from the Ministry of Agriculture, which provides a regular update on the situation.

France has just raised the risk level to “moderate”. Poultry farming is prohibited in areas of greatest riskto avoid contact with migratory birds carrying the virus.

In general, the first cases in domestic birds are due to direct or indirect contact (droppings) with wild birds, then the virus spreads from farm to farm through the movement of animals, people and materials.

Unprecedented fact: this summer, the virus has not disappeared. It continued to circulate in Europe among wildlife. And it decimated protected marine species like gannets in Brittany.

“As the autumn migration begins and the number of wild birds wintering in Europe increases, the risk of avian influenza infection is “probably” higher” than in previous years due to the persistence of the virus in Europe.”stressed this week Guilhem de Seze, head of the department responsible for risk assessment of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).

The French platform for epidemiological surveillance in animal health (ESA) mentions in an article a “alarming situation”the authors noting that the risks of infection “will increase sharply in the coming weeks”.

The epizootic that has been occurring continuously for a year is “the biggest epidemic observed to date in Europe”, informs the EASA. In one year, according to this source, 47.7 million birds were slaughtered on contaminated European farms.

Hopes are pinned on the development of a vaccine for animals. But the results are not expected until next year.

Some cases of transmission of the virus to humans have been reported in China, the United Kingdom, the United States and very recently in Spain, in a farm worker. European health authorities estimate that the risk of infection is “low” for people who do not have prolonged contact with birds and “low to medium for occupationally exposed people”. Cases have also been identified in foxes, seals and a porpoise. The risk of transmission to humans through consumption of contaminated meat or eggs is considered “negligible”.

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