The national health situation with regard to avian influenza had improved in France since the beginning of May, with the return to a level of risk classified as “negligible”.
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However, since mid-May, a sharp increase in cases has been observed in “indigenous” wildlife on the Channel coast. And two outbreaks in breeding were confirmed on July 29 and 30 in the Manche and the Somme.
Since mid-May, grouped mortalities of coastal birds have been observed first in the coastal departments of Hauts de France (Nord, Pas-de-Calais, Somme) mainly among gulls (gulls, gulls and terns) then these mortalities appeared during June on the Normandy coasts (Seine-maritime, Calvados, Manche) to be observed in July on the Brittany coasts (Côtes d'Armor).
Since then, these observations have been regular on these 7 departments on the coasts but also sometimes inland.
These mortalities are monitored as part of the SAGIR network (national system for monitoring the health of wildlife) which carries out analyses. ANSES's National Reference Laboratory (NRL) confirmed the presence of the highly pathogenic avian influenza virus in around a hundred events in wildlife on the Channel coast.
Note that the term "event" does not give the number of animals found dead (this number can vary from 1 to ten).
Temporary wildlife control zones (ZCT-FS) have been established, in consultation with the DDecPPs concerned, around confirmed cases of HPAI.
In these areas, various measures have been introduced, the objective of which is to strengthen surveillance of wildlife and poultry farms and to make professionals aware of compliance with biosecurity measures.
This increase in cases of HPAI in wildlife extends to other countries of the European Union, cases essentially grouped together at coastal level.
The situation is exceptional (never encountered in France before) due to its scale and the period when the detections are taking place.
Although the regulatory level of risk has returned to the negligible level (see below), environmental contamination remains high in the regions where wild bird mortalities and the spread of this contamination are observed (and the risk of introduction of the virus into poultry farms) can occur as a result of movements of wild bird populations.
Strict compliance with biosecurity rules and bird monitoring are more important than ever. ■