France Facing Repeat of Extensive HPAI Outbreak


According to media reports from France and confirmed by ProMed the Nation is faced with a deteriorating HPAI situation.  During the winter of 2020-2021 H5N8 was the predominant pathogen.  In the current outbreak, as in other E.U. and Asian nations, H5N1 is responsible for extensive mortality.  To date, the present outbreak has impacted 26 commercial farms mainly in the southwest, where the foie gras production is concentrated.  Outbreaks have impacted the production of ducks, geese and chickens with up to 650,000 birds having been depleted with most since mid-December 2021. During the winter of 2020-2021 up to 3.5 million birds mainly commercial waterfowl were depleted on 500 small family-operated farms requiring extensive compensation and costs to the public sector associated with attempted control. 


Although farmers were warned to confine poultry to building in early November 2021, the foie gras production system is based on free-range management for a considerable portion of the production cycle.  These flocks are susceptible to infection from migratory waterfowl.


Isolation of H5N1 from wild birds invariably precedes cases in backyard flocks devoid of biosecurity followed by cases in small and then larger commercial flocks many under free-range management. 


Coastal areas and regions adjoining large rivers with adjacent wetlands attract migratory birds resulting in outbreaks in poultry in almost all nations in the EU extending from the Eastern Russian Federation to the Faroe Islands in the North Atlantic.  The Friedrich Loeffler Institute, in Germany, recorded 675 infections in wild birds and 534 infections in commercial and backyard flocks between the beginning of October 2021 and the end of December 2021.  The number of cases in other E.U. nations is a function of surveillance and laboratory confirmation mainly using PCR.