FRANCE is to roll out its avian influenza vaccination programme targeting domestic ducks across the entire country.

The Ministry for Agriculture said the inoculation of 64 million ducks over 12 months would begin from October as part of a significant package of measures aimed at protecting the country’s poultry sector.

See also: Prepare for avian influenza challenges this winter

It follows a resolution by the World Organisation for Animal Health on 23 May last year that vaccination could be a tool in controlling the virus, backed up with specific enhanced surveillance.

A similar move was made by the Council of the European Union a year earlier, paving the way for vaccine development.

Following consultation, the French decided upon a preventative strategy instead of opting for emergency vaccination, which was judged too difficult.

Mandatory

And, given the role played by duck farms in the spread of AI across France, it was decided that only ducks will be targeted.

Vaccination will be mandatory for commercial producers in the foie gras and table duck sectors.

Doses will be administered year-round throughout mainland France with a surveillance programme in line with EU recommendations.

Any outbreak of AI will be treated as it is now with the same clean-up and biosecurity requirements as at present.

“Vaccination is simply a supplementary measure enabling preventative culling of healthy stock to be reduced and spread of the disease to be limited, in pursuance of the goal of eradicating it across the whole of the country,” a technical briefing said.