Avian Flu. Poultry farmers fear the worst

Twelve outbreaks of avian flu have been designated in French farms by the Ministry of Agriculture, since the return of the virus in mid-May, in the Manche, Morbihan, Ille-et-Vilaine… Latest to date: a farm of 36,000 poultry in Indre-et-Loire, confirmed on September 17. Regulated protection (3 km) and surveillance (10 km) zones have been set up around the farms concerned, with measures imposed on professionals and individuals: sheltering, provision of equipment, movement of birds forbidden…

This rebound scares farmers the worst, especially in the open air. The virus usually struck in winter, during the passage of migratory birds (traditional vectors), and remained confined to the South-West, in foie gras production areas. The last winter episode was already historic in its intensity (3.5 million poultry slaughtered). But since, “we are living through an unprecedented health crisis”, is alarmed Jean-Michel Schaeffer, president of the meat poultry interprofession (Anvol), who anticipates a drop of 500 million euros in turnover in 2022.

Ongoing vaccine trials

The epizootic decimated in particular the Pays de la Loire, “a strategic region: the second largest producer of French poultry (23% of chickens and turkeys, 60% of roasting ducks, etc.) and which concentrates breeding farms and hatcheries”. The state presented a new action plan in July to relaunch the sector, hit in parallel by soaring production costs.

With this resurgence of the virus in summer, the National Health Security Agency (Anses) fears a “endemization” of the disease, present throughout the year. Among the avenues studied, vaccine trials are underway in Europe on waterfowl and gallinaceans. France has been experimenting with ducks since May. However, the European Commission does not envisage vaccination before 2024.

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