Deadly bird flu virus spreads to southeast France
PARIS, Mar 5: France announced today a new case of the deadly H5N1 strain of bird flu in a wild duck in the east of the country, while another test on a wild swan showed the virus had spread several hundred kilometres to the south.
The agriculture ministry said tests for H5N1 had proved positive on the wild duck found on February 28 in the Ain region, where the first case of the deadly strain in domestic farm birds in the European Union was found last month at a turkey farm.
Laboratory tests by Afssa, France's national agency for nutritional safety, also confirmed H5N1 in the wild swan found on Feb. 28 in the Mediterranean Bouches-du-Rhone region, the ministry said in another Web site statement dated yesterday.
The discovery of the virus in France, Europe's biggest poultry producer, has hit exports as more than 43 countries have imposed curbs on French poultry products, including foie gras.
About 30 wild birds in France have so far been diagnosed with the H5N1 virus, which has killed more than 90 people and millions of birds, as it spread from Asia to parts of Africa, the Middle East and Europe, but has not yet reached Britain.
Ten seagulls carrying the H5 bird flu were found dead last week in the northern French region of Pas-de-Calais along the coast of the Channel, government sources said.
But an official late on Saturday ruled out that the birds, found on Thursday close to France's biggest fishing port of Boulogne-sur-Mer, were carrying the deadly H5N1 strain, and said that no precautions had been taken.