French producers estimate bird flu toll at 3.3 million birds

PARIS - The number of poultry killed or culled due to bird flu in France is forecast to reach 3.3 million birds after France extended on Wednesday the area where poultry must be slaughtered to contain the fast-spreading virus, foie gras producers said.
The toll is likely to rise further as new outbreaks continue to be detected daily in the southwestern part of the country, the main production zone for the duck and goose liver specialty, Marie-Pierre Pe, general secretary of producers group Cifog, said.
France and Hungary have been the countries hardest hit by the highly contagious H5N8 avian flu virus that has been spreading across Europe as well as Middle eastern countries in the past three months.
France launched a massive culling plan early January to counter the virus and said a month ago it would scale back preventive slaughtering after the move lead to a slowdown in the spread of the virus.
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