February 21, 2017 / 7:46 AM / 3 years ago

France to cull more ducks as fights bird flu virus

An employee works on a rack of slaughtered ducks at a poultry farm in Eugenie les Bains, France, January 24, 2017, as France scales back preventive slaughtering of ducks to counter bird flu after the culling of 800,000 birds this month helped slow the spread of the disease. REUTERS/Regis Duvignau

(This version of the story has been refiled to change first two paragraphs after farm minister corrects scope of the culling measure)

By Claude Canellas

BORDEAUX, France (Reuters) - France will cull a further 360,000 ducks as part of efforts to prevent a spread of the H5N8 bird flu virus, the country’s farm ministry said on Tuesday.

The latest cull will take place in the Landes and the Pyrennees-Atlantiques regions in southwest France, which is home to most of the country’s foie gras producers, it said in a statement.

French Agriculture Minister Stephane Le Foll had earlier earlier told France Bleu regional radio station the government intended to order the slaughtering of all 600,000 ducks still alive in the Landes region.

France and Hungary have been the countries hardest hit by the highly contagious H5N8 virus that has been spreading across Europe, the Middle East and Africa countries in the past three months.

France launched a massive cull in January to try to contain the virus and said a month ago it would scale back preventative slaughtering after the spread of the virus slowed, but the number of farms infected has nevertheless continued to rise.

Foie gras producers have estimated the number of poultry killed or culled due to bird flu in France at more than 3.2 million birds, and have forecast this would rise to 3.4 million as the government extended its culling measures.

Reporting by Claude Canellas and Sybille de La Hamaide; Writing by Sudip Kar-Gupta; Editing by Mark Potter

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