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France to cull 600,000 more ducks in fight against bird flu virus

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France to cull 600,000 more ducks in fight against bird flu virus
Photo: AFP
09:54 CET+01:00
Some 600,000 more ducks are set to be culled in an attempt to stop a bird flu outbreak in the south west.
All of the ducks on farms in the Landes department in south-western France are to be killed, Agriculture Minister Stéphane Le Foll told France Bleu radio on Tuesday.
 
The department, on the western coast of France and close to the Spanish border, is home to around 600,000 ducks and is France's biggest producer of foie gras. 
 
However the department has seen over 100 cases of animals contaminated with the highly pathogenic H5N8 virus.
 
Le Foll said that many ducks in the area had been put down already, but that more needed to be done to "stabilize the area". 
 
"We have already culled a lot of ducks in the eastern bit of that area. We know that there is still an area remaining where we will have to take action to cull all the ducks," Le Foll said.
 
"Authorities are facing a virus that spreads at speeds never seen before and with extremely short incubation periods."
 
He added that the mass culling would take "several weeks" to carry out and that the aim was to prevent the disease from spreading. 
 
Landes in south western France. Photo: GoogleMaps
 
The Ministry of Agriculture said that there had been 273 outbreaks of the H5N8 strain of the virus in farms across France and 28 reported in the wild. 
 
Over 120 of these outbreaks were in the Landes department, with another 92 in the nearby Gers.
 
The Agriculture Ministry last ordered a massive poultry cull in January, when it started gassing hundreds of thousands of ducks in the hope of containing the virus, however it has since spread. 
 
 
A handful of European countries have been hit by the contagious virus in recent months, and it has even spread as far as the Middle East. 
 
The department of Landes, pictured above, is responsible for around a quarter of the foie gras bought in France.
 
The French government has promised that the farmers will be compensated, but some have complained of being underpaid following a similar outbreak in 2015 that set the industry back an estimated half a billion euros.
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