March 1, 2017 / 3:31 PM / 9 months ago

France detects possible bird flu outbreak on northern farm

LILLE, France (Reuters) - French authorities reported a possible outbreak of bird flu on a poultry farm in the far north of the country on Wednesday, which could mark a spreading of the disease beyond the southwest foie gras producing region where millions of birds have been culled.

A sign which reads, "Disinfection area" hangs from a chain at a duck farm in Montsoue, France, January 12, 2017, as France continues a massive cull of ducks in three regions most affected by a severe outbreak of bird flu as it tries to contain the virus which has been spreading quickly over the past month. REUTERS/Regis Duvignau

Traces of a severe bird flu virus were found on chickens at a farm near the port town of Dunkirk, which is close to the Belgian border, local authorities said in a statement, adding that further tests were being conducted to confirm the outbreak.

The type of bird flu was not indicated.

The farm saw some 10,000 chickens out of a flock of 27,000 die last month but initial testing did not detect bird flu.

France, alongside Hungary, has been the country most affected by a wave of highly contagious H5N8 bird flu in Europe. The virus is deadly for poultry but not known to be transmissible to humans.

The government has been trying to contain the virus in southwest France, where more than 3 million birds have died or been preventively culled in a region known for its production of foie gras, the specialty made from duck and goose liver.

A case of H5N8 bird flu was detected in the far north late last year but among wild birds rather than on a farm.

Reporting by Pierre Savary, writing by Gus Trompiz, editing by David Evans

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