PARIS, France (Reuters) – According to the farm ministry, France will slaughter roughly 600,000 poultry birds in order to limit an avian influenza virus that is spreading among duck herds in the southwest of the country.

Late last year, France was one of several European countries to report extremely contagious strains of bird flu, prompting major culls as officials attempted to minimise transmission from wild birds to farm flocks.

According to a farm ministry official, France has already slaughtered roughly 200,000 chickens and aims to cull another 400,000 birds.

Culls are being carried out on flocks where outbreaks have occurred, as well as preventative slaughtering of birds in the surrounding area.

According to a previous internet update from the farm ministry, France had confirmed 61 H5N8 virus outbreaks as of Jan. 1, 48 of which were in the southwestern Landes area.

The Landes is part of a foie gras-producing duck breeding zone.

The infection appeared to be under control in other areas, according to the government.
Humans are not known to be infected with the H5N8 form of avian flu.

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