France confirms bird flu vaccination after favorable tests

PARIS (Reuters) – France has confirmed its intention to launch an avian flu vaccination program in the fall after the results of a series of tests on the vaccination of ducks showed “satisfactory efficacy”, said the Ministry of Agriculture.

A severe strain of highly pathogenic avian influenza, commonly known as bird flu, has ravaged poultry production worldwide, leading to the culling of over 200 million birds in the past 18 months.

France is the most affected country in the European Union and has been facing a strong upsurge in outbreaks since the beginning of the month in the south-west of the country, mainly among ducks.

It had already launched a pre-order of 80 million vaccines last month, which was to be confirmed based on the latest tests carried out by the French health security agency Anses.

“These favorable results have provided sufficient guarantees to launch a vaccination campaign from autumn 2023”, writes the Ministry of Agriculture on its website.

Governments, often hesitant to use vaccination because of the trade restrictions it can entail, have increasingly considered adopting them to stem the spread of the virus and prevent human-to-human transmission.

Test results demonstrated good control of virus transmission in vaccinated mule ducks, differentiation between infected and vaccinated animals, known as the DIVA principle, and reduced virus shedding by vaccinated birds. , according to the test results.

France has commissioned two companies, the French Ceva Santé Animale and the German Boehringher Ingelheim, to develop vaccines against bird flu for ducks.

Several other EU countries have carried out tests, including the Netherlands on laying hens and Italy on turkeys.

The first results in the Netherlands showed that the vaccines tested were effective.

(Report by Sybille de La Hamaide; Editing by Christian Schmollinger)

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