France places parts of country on high alert for bird flu

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France is putting part of the country on high alert for bird flu after cases of the disease were reported in western Europe since last month, the government announced on Thursday.

Around half of France’s administrative departments will be classed as high risk, while the rest of the country will be on medium alert, the government said in a decree published in its official journal.

The high alert level notably requires poultry farms to keep animals indoors or install protective netting to prevent contact with wild birds that spread the disease.

“The presence of the virus in wild animals near France’s borders, in a migratory channel that crosses national territory, justifies the raising of the risk level,” the government said in the decree.

The measure replaces a previous decree from late October that had increased surveillance in wetland zones that attract migrating birds.

The Netherlands, Europe’s largest exporter of chicken meat and eggs, has ordered the culling of over 200,000 chickens after highly pathogenic bird flu was found on several farms since late October. 

Britain on Monday ordered a cull of 13,000 birds at a farm in northwest England after detecting cases there.

Germany, meanwhile, last week reported a case of bird flu in a wild bird in the north of the country. 

Bird flu is rarely transmitted to humans but certain strains are very contagious among poultry.

Outbreaks in France in recent years decimated duck and goose flocks that are reared to produce the pate specialty foie gras.

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