PARIS, Feb 23 (Reuters) France, the European Union's biggest poultry producer, has confirmed that a second wild duck on its territory has been found to have the deadly H5N1 strain of bird flu.
The duck was found dead on Sunday in the Ain region of eastern France, where the first bird to have H5N1 was discovered in the village of Joyeux.
The second duck was found to have a strain of bird flu that was ''99 percent homologous with the virus identified in the wild duck in Joyeux on Saturday, February 18,'' the Agriculture Ministry said in a statement issued late yesterday.
The ministry added that security measures, such as protection and surveillance zones, would be put in place today around the spot where the bird was found, as had been carried out in Joyeux after the first case of H5N1 was found.
The European Commission has approved plans by France and the Netherlands to vaccinate poultry under strict conditions in the fight against bird flu, which has spread from Asia to Europe and Africa.
French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin on Wednesday welcomed the decision and pledged solidarity with the country's poultry industry.
French poultry consumption was 20-30 per cent down on 2005 this week after the first case of deadly bird flu virus was discovered, the FNSEA farm union said yesterday.
Farm Minister Dominique Bussereau will meet representatives from the poultry industry in Paris today.
Reuters CS DB0954