France, the European Union's biggest agriculture producer, reported an outbreak of the deadly H5N1 bird flu virus in chickens on Wednesday, its first since 2007.
"A case of avian influenza has been confirmed in a backyard in Dordogne," the farm ministry said in a statement.
The bird flu outbreak, found among chickens, is the first to be reported in France since 2007 when it had been detected in wild swans, data from the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) showed.
Several countries including Japan, Egypt and Hong Kong banned French poultry following past outbreaks of the highly pathogenic H5N1.
The latest incident marks the first case of H5N1 reported in the EU since outbreaks in Bulgaria and Romania were detected in March.
Agriculture Minister Stephane Le Foll asked his services to activate a national intervention emergency plan following European and international rules, the ministry said.
It said a monitoring zone of up to 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) has been established around the site.
"The sequencing of the strain is ongoing but it seems that it is a strain already detected in Europe and which until now has presented a low pathogenic profile," it said.
As a precaution, Le Foll will evaluate the strain's degree of danger to humans together with the health minister, it said.
High pathogenic H5N1 bird flu first infected humans in 1997 during a poultry outbreak in Hong Kong.
Since its re-emergence in 2003 and 2004, H5N1 has spread from Asia to Europe and Africa, causing millions of poultry infections, several hundred human cases and many human deaths.
The French farm ministry insisted it cannot be transmitted to humans through meat, eggs, foie gras or any food products.
(Reporting by Gus Trompiz and Sybille de La Hamaide; editing by Jason Neely)
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