The world is going through its worst-ever outbreak of bird flu. France has developed vaccines against the viral disease for ducks, which may provide respite.
Two vaccines tested in France against avian flu have proven to be “very effective” in protecting mule ducks from the virus, the French health agency Anses told news agency AFP on May 25, 2023 paving the way for a national vaccination within a few months.
Read more: We should only worry about bird flu making us sick when we see human-to-human transmission
Nearly 9,000 sea lions, penguins, otters and small cetaceans have died in an avian flu outbreak battering Chile’s north coast, according to the South American country’s fisheries service.
France has been the worst-hit country in the European Union and is facing a strong resurgence of outbreaks since early this month in the southwestern part of the country, mainly among ducks, reported French state-owned international news television network France24.
Mule ducks are mainly bred for foie gras, a popular delicacy in French cuisine.
According to the United States’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the influenza is a disease in birds caused by infection with avian (bird) influenza (flu) Type A viruses, also called H5N1. They can be highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) or low pathogenicity avian influenza.
The French ministry of agriculture and food sovereignty started trials in May 2022 to test vaccines on mule ducks to protect against HPAI. The study was conducted in two phases, the ministry said on its website.
Read more: H5 pandemic in the making? Minks may become the bird flu vector for humans
The results of the tests demonstrated reasonable control of virus transmission in vaccinated mule ducks, a differentiation between infected and vaccinated animals and a reduction in virus excretion by vaccinated birds.
The country has mandated two companies, France’s Ceva Animal Health and Germany’s Boehringher Ingelheim, to develop bird flu vaccines for ducks, the Reuters report added.
The World Organisation for Animal Health (WOAH) said there has been “an unprecedented number of outbreaks” of bird flu reported in regions worldwide since the outbreak began in October 2021, according to the United Kingdom’s national broadcaster British Broadcasting Corporation.
As of May 25, 2023, France has identified a total of 390 HPAI outbreaks detected in livestock since the start of the crisis on August 1, 2022.
We are a voice to you; you have been a support to us. Together we build journalism that is independent, credible and fearless. You can further help us by making a donation. This will mean a lot for our ability to bring you news, perspectives and analysis from the ground so that we can make change together.