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French foie gras region faces another duck cull due to bird flu

Iroz Gaizka, AFP | File photo taken on Aug. 31, 2016 of a duck farm in Caupenne, southwestern France.

France's agriculture ministry on Tuesday ordered all remaining 600,000 ducks in a key foie gras-producing region be slaughtered to try to stem a growing outbreak of bird flu.

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A previous cull in southwestern France failed to stop the spread of the H5N8 virus -- also known as bird flu -- which has hit ducks and other birds in more than 300 French farms in the past few months.

The slaughter wll be largely focused on the region of Landes, where approximately 25 percent of France's foie gras is produced.

France is the world's biggest producer of foie gras

Agriculture Minister Stephane Le Foll said on France Bleu radio Tuesday that the flu spread faster than expected. He said all 600,000 farmed ducks in the Landes would be killed and measures would be taken to better secure transport of poultry and limit their mobility.

The virus does not transmit via food and is harmless to humans.

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.

The government launched a massive cull in early January to contain the virus and said a month ago it would scale back preventive slaughtering after its spread slowed.

However, the number of farms infected has continued to rise with 249 outbreaks detected by February 15.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP, AP and REUTERS)

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