Avian flu: France almost spared thanks to vaccination and less circulation, according to ANSES

Avian flu: France almost spared thanks to vaccination and less circulation, according to ANSES

France was largely spared by bird flu these last months. The result of the combination of less circulation of the virus in Europe and the vaccination of ducks, which it is the only European country to practice, the head of the national reference laboratory for influenza told AFP on Friday. avian research at the Anses health agency.

In total, only ten poultry outbreaks and 22 wild cases have been recorded in France since the start of the season in August 2023, according to the latest weekly bulletin from the French epidemiological surveillance platform in animal health (ESA) collecting data until March 3. At the same time last year (as of March 5, 2023), 307 poultry outbreaks, 85 captive bird outbreaks (zoos, backyards and ornamental birds) and 323 wild cases had been detected.

The combination of “two favorable conditions” – vaccination and less circulation of the virus in wildlife – “has an impact on the number of outbreaks detected in France,” said Béatrice Grasland. Other countries also produce ducks, notably in Hungary, and do not vaccinate, and the number of affected farms was much greater there. »

21.6 million ducks vaccinated

France, particularly affected by the virus since 2015, slaughtered more than 30 million poultry between the summer of 2021 and last year. She therefore decided to make it compulsory vaccination against bird flu in farms of more than 250 ducks, excluding breeding ducks, a campaign which began on October 1st. In total, at the beginning of March, 21.6 million ducks received at least one injection, according to the Ministry of Agriculture.

At the same time, the “highly pathogenic avian influenza virus” continues to circulate in Europe, “but to a lesser extent than last year over the same periods”, indicated Béatrice Grasland. According to the ESA bulletin, 288 poultry outbreaks, 61 captive bird outbreaks and 690 wild cases have been recorded in Europe since August 1, with 33 countries having detected the presence of the virus on their territory. Last year at the same period, 881 poultry outbreaks (mainly in France, the United Kingdom and Hungary), 352 captive bird outbreaks as well as 2,206 wild cases were already recorded.

Given the visible success of the vaccination campaign in France, will it be extended to other countries? “This is the decision of each state,” said Béatrice Grasland. The expansion of vaccination to other species such as chickens or turkeys will depend on “an assessment of costs”, she added.

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