PARIS, Dec 10 (Reuters) - France has discovered two new outbreaks of highly pathogenic bird flu including one in the Gers region in southwest France, the agriculture ministry said on Thursday, bringing to four the number of regions hit by the virus in the country.
The ministry said the H5N2 virus was found at a farm with 8,300 ducks in Gers and the H5N9 strain was detected in a farm with more than 20,000 chickens, guinea fowl and ducks in the neighbouring Landes region.
The European Union’s largest agricultural producer has faced a series of outbreaks of bird flu since a case of H5N1 was found in chickens kept in a private backyard in Dordogne on Nov. 24.
The wave of bird flu is affecting France’s major foie gras producing region, coming just before demand peaks over the year-end holiday season.
Twelve outbreaks have been reported so far in France, the ministry said, including seven in Dordogne, three in Landes, one in Haute-Vienne and one in Gers.
Several strains have been detected including the H5N1, H5N2, H5N9. Some outbreaks still need to be precisely identified.
There is no evidence that bird flu can be transmitted to humans via food, but France is facing restrictions from trading partners on products as well as live poultry animals including Japan, the world’s largest importer of French foie gras. (Reporting by Sybille de La Hamaide, editing by David Evans)