November 23, 2013 at 1:54 am #1141MikeKeymaster
– from bridget
French farm turkeys died of bird flu
BY JENNY BOOTH AND VALERIE ELLIOTT
Turkeys on a farm in south-east France are infected with the highly
pathogenic H5 strain of bird flu, the French Agriculture Minister
has confirmed today.
Dominique Bussereau said more tests were needed to determine if the
strain involved was the deadly H5N1. If confirmed, it would be the
first time the disease had spread to poultry stocks in France, which
is the European Union’s largest poultry producer.
On Thursday, authorities sealed off a farm with more than 11,000
turkeys in the southeastern Ain region, the same area where France’s
first two cases of the deadly virus — in two wild ducks — were
“The suspicion that we had yesterday, which brought us to first cull
the animals and then destroy them, was unfortunately confirmed this
morning,” M Bussereau told France-2 television.
Confirmation of H5N1 would deal a further blow to France’s already
battered poultry industry, worth €6 billion (£4 billion) a year and
the biggest in the EU.
Local sources said that around 80 per cent of the birds at the farm,
which has more than 11,000 birds and is in a region famous for the
quality of its chickens, had already died. All remaining turkeys
were to be culled, the ministry said on Thursday.
A security zone of three km (two miles) and a surveillance zone of
seven km (five miles) had been set up around the farm as is usual
under European Union emergency measures, officials say.
Dominique de Villepin, the French Prime Minister, has announced a
government aid package worth €52 million (£35 million) for the
poultry sector to cope with the crisis.
In London, emergency services chiefs met at the Cabinet Office
yesterday to discuss plans for a human bird flu pandemic in Britain.
Police, fire, health and ambulance chiefs were warned by Bruce Mann,
head of the civil contingencies unit, that as many as 30 per cent of
their staff could be missing from work during a pandemic.
At a separate conference, company bosses were urged to agree new
staff employment contracts and make clear what would be expected of
their workforces during a pandemic. They were told that failure to
do so could result in a big increase in employment tribunals and
legal action if staff were dismissed for staying away from work.
Dan Cooper, an employment lawyer, urged companies to be reasonable
and also to ensure safety for staff at work.
There was some relief among world health experts, meanwhile, that 11
out of the 12 suspected cases of human bird flu in the Indian state
of Maharashtra had proved negative. The 12th person was being
subjected to further tests.
The authorities in India are so concerned that the virus could
spread through the millions of people who live next to their
chickens that the remote town of Navapur is virtually sealed off.
Trains and cars are banned from stopping there.
The lethal H5N1 strain has killed more than 90 people worldwide
since 2003, although the infection has come from close contact with
poultry and there have been no cases of human-to-human transmission.
In the Netherlands, officials are to offer vaccines to five million
birds on free-range farms and three million birds on hobby farms.
The French plan to vaccinate some 900,000 ducks and geese kept
outdoors in three regions in the South West deemed at most risk of
the disease because of migration.
It is possible that vaccinated meat will be sold for consumption in
Britain, although there will be no mention of vaccine on food
Peter Bradnock, chief executive of the British Poultry Council,
said: “There is almost certain to be some supplies of vaccinated
meat coming into the country. We already have established trade with
France and the Netherlands. It is likely to go into ready meals or
be sold by wholesalers for the catering trade, restaurants, pubs and
Kevin Hawkins, director- general of the British Retail Council,
which represents leading supermarkets, was convinced that the meat
would not be sold in the leading chains.
“The retailers will wish to shore up confidence in chicken sales and
will not damage customer confidence by mixing meat from vaccinated
birds with their normal supplies,” he said.
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