Denmark and France launch culls over bird flu cases

France and Denmark confirmed bird flu cases on Monday days after an outbreak in the Netherlands triggered a massive cull.

Denmark and France launch culls over bird flu cases
Photo: AFP

Hundreds of hens were killed after the virus was detected in a garden centre on the French island of Corsica, and the Danes said more than 25,000 birds would be slaughtered after the virus emerged in the west of the country.

France has ordered national protection measures including obligatory confinement of poultry to isolate them from wild birds, while Denmark has suspended exports of eggs to chickens outside the EU.

The virus, which is not harmful to humans but is potentially devastating to the farming sector, has so far appeared in Belgium, the Netherlands, Russia, Ireland and Britain among other countries. 

Dutch officials said earlier this month they had culled more than 200,000 birds. 

Duck breeders in southwestern France have been hit twice in recent years, sparking mass culls that cost producers hundreds of millions of euros.

French officials insisted there was no need for people to change their habits. 

“The consumption of meat, foie gras and eggs – and more generally of any food product – does not present any risk to humans,” the ministry said.

Denmark urged farmers to ensure the birds were protected from possible infection.

The Danes are culling the country's entire population of fur farm mink after some were found to be infected with the novel coronavirus.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: What is Denmark's proposed 'epidemic law' and why is it being criticised?

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Exports threatened after bird flu found in Danish poultry

The aggressive bird flu H5N8 that was reported in wild ducks last week has now been found on a Danish poultry farm.

Exports threatened after bird flu found in Danish poultry
Dead ducks were taken away from the infected farm by emergency workers on Monday. Photo: Bax Lindhardt/Scanpix
The Danish Food and Veterinary Service (Fødevarestyrelsen) said on Monday that tests from a duck farm in northern Zealand confirmed the presence of the virus. Roughly a third of the farm’s ducks have died as a result. 
The case marks the first time that the bird flu has been confirmed amongst domestic poultry since it was discovered in wild ducks earlier this month.  
The national poultry association, Det Dansk Fjerkræråd, said that the discovery of H5N8 threatens to put a serious damper on exports. 
“It can be a major blow to the industry. I'm kind of in shock. Just how big the loss will be, I cannot yet say,” association spokesman Jørgen Nyberg Larsen told Ritzau. 
According to Larsen, a number of countries outside of the EU institute an automatic stop to imports of Danish poultry as soon as there is a confirmed case of bird flu.
“It’s typically some of the countries we do business with in the Middle East and Far East that will close the borders. Nearly 100 percent of the offal, feet and shell eggs we export are sold there,” he said. 
Larsen said the industry would be “lucky” if exports only shut down for one month but he said it could last up to six months. 
The Danish Food and Veterinary Service said that the bird flu is normally not spread to humans but it has ordered poultry farmers to keep all hens indoors until the new year. 
The agency believes that the bird flu entered Denmark via Germany. There have also been confirmed reports of H5N8 in Austria, Switzerland, Hungary and Poland.