Bird flu outbreak found in town outside French restriction zone

A duck is seen in its enclosure at a poultry farm in Doazit, south-western France.
A duck is seen in its enclosure at a poultry farm in Doazit, south-western France.PHOTO: REUTERS

PARIS (Reuters) - An avian flu outbreak has been identified in a town located outside a restriction zone the French Farm Ministry established last month in an effort to contain the highly infectious disease as a rising number of countries banned French poultry products.

There have been 69 outbreaks of highly pathogenic bird flu found in eight administrative districts since Nov 24 in south-western France.

"One new case was found in Haute-Garonne," a ministry official said, adding that France would therefore widen the restriction zone.

It now includes the six administrative departments where bird flu had been found so far - Dordogne, Gers, Haute-Vienne, Landes, Pyrenees-Atlantiques and Hautes-Pyrenees - as well as the whole of Gironde and Lot-et-Garonne, and parts of the Lot and Charente departments.

Avian flu cannot be transmitted to humans through food. Some viruses have infected humans, but initial results showed that the strains found in France posed no risk of being caught by humans, the Farm Minister said.

More than a dozen countries including Japan - the world's largest importer of foie gras - imposed restrictions on French poultry products, live animals or hatching eggs after the bird flu outbreaks, which were found mainly in ducks and chickens.