laboratory testing© BURGER/PHANIE/REX Shutterstock

France has tightened restriction movements of poultry in parts of the south west of the country after announcing a doubling in the number of cases of high pathogenic avian influenza to 30.

Four virus subtypes have now been discovered following an escalation in surveillance as France battles to contain its first bird flu outbreak in eight years.

The government has established a broad restriction zone around five of the regions where bird flu has so far been discovered. The outbreak has affected farms in Landes (13 cases), Dordogne (11), Gers (3), Pyrenees Atlantique (2) and Haute-Vienne (1).

See also: Bird flu insurance in place for free-range producers

The French Ministry of Agriculture said in a statement to Reuters: “The new measures are aimed at sanitizing in an effective way poultry production across a wide zone, and at providing all necessary guarantees to EU and non-EU countries that import French poultry birds and meat.”

Agriculture minister Stephane Le Foll said earlier this week that the government was trying to convince countries to only limit restrictions to regions affected by avian influenza.

A number of countries have banned French poultry products, live animals and hatching eggs, including China, Japan, Algeria, Morocco, Thailand and South Korea.

Three high pathogenic strains have so far been discovered in the current outbreak – H5N1, H5N2, H5N9 – while low pathogenic H5N3 has been found on two farms in Landes and a single holding in Pyrenees Atlantique.

Meanwhile, in early December, Germany reported a single case of low pathogenic H5N2 virus on a farm with 9,500 laying hens, 2,000 ducks, 100 turkeys and 1,500 free-range geese in the east of the country.