The highly pathogenic H5N1 bird flu virus has been detected on a duck farm in the southwest of France, the ministry of Agriculture said in a statement on Friday. The farm breeds ducks for foie gras.
The ministry said it would slaughter all ducks on the farm in the Gers administrative county and all animals on nearby farms. Last winter, after bird flu outbreaks, France killed over three million ducks in the same foie gras production region.
Severe outbreaks of avian influenza, also called bird flu, have spread in Europe and Asia in recent weeks.
As a solution, governments keep killing infected animals and all animals in the area in an attempt to contain the outbreaks, with little success so far. The latest outbreak on the duck farm in France was the eight this year.
In the first nine months of 2021, governments worldwide killed more than 43 million animals due to bird flu outbreaks.
With the exception of some wild birds, most killed animals are farm animals solely raised for the food industry. Experts think that bird flu is spreading so rapidly because of the increase of huge industrial animal farms. The number of people infected with bird flu has also increased, which has experts worried.
Some animal welfare organizations and politicians have argued that the animal farming industry should change to stop a possible next pandemic.
“One of the biggest threats to public health is large scale animal agriculture. Fur farms, chicken farms and pig farms all have one thing in common: large numbers of genetically similar animals are contained in tight, stressful living conditions,” animal welfare organization Four Paws said on their website.
“To prevent the next pandemic, we need to change the way we treat non-human animals. Animal welfare is closely linked to animal health, which in turn is linked to human health,” Four Paws said.
The Animal Reader is a small independent news platform with daily posts about issues affecting animals.