Bird flu spreads to Poland, hitting farms totalling 650,000 poultry

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PARIS (Reuters) - Poland has reported several outbreaks of highly pathogenic H5N1 bird flu at poultry farms with flocks totalling nearly 650,000 birds, the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) said on Monday.

Poland is the European Union's largest poultry producer.

Five outbreaks, of which four were at fattening turkey farms and one at a chicken broiler farm, were found in the eastern part of the country while another was discovered at a turkey and geese farm in the western part of the country, the OIE said, citing a report from Polish authorities.

Bird flu, most often carried from one country to the other by migrating wild birds, has been spreading rapidly in Europe, raising concern in the poultry industry after previous outbreaks led to the culling of tens of millions of birds and international trade restrictions.

The French government on Friday put the entire country on high alert for bird flu, extending a requirement to keep all poultry flocks indoors.

This comes after Dutch authorities last month also ordered commercial farms to keep all flocks inside after bird flu was reported on a farm. [nA5N2C402D]

Meanwhile, in Britain an outbreak of highly pathogenic H5 bird flu was reported at a small poultry unit in central England on Monday. Britain last week declared a nationwide Avian Influenza Prevention Zone, ordering farms and bird keepers to toughen biosecurity measures.

(Reporting by Sybille de La Hamaide, editing by Gus Trompiz and Toby Chopra)

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