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France is one of Europe’s foremost poultry producers and the world’s fifth largest producer of poultry meat. In November 2016, highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) virus subtype H5N8 emerged in poultry in the country. As of 23 March 2017, a total of 484 confirmed outbreaks were reported, with consequences on animal health and socio-economic impacts for producers. We examined the spatio-temporal distribution of outbreaks that occurred in France between November 2016 and March 2017, using the space–time K-function and space–time permutation model of the scan statistic test. : Most outbreaks affected duck flocks in south-west France. A significant space–time interaction of outbreaks was present at the beginning of the epidemic within a window of 8 km and 13 days. This interaction disappeared towards the epidemic end. Five spatio-temporal outbreak clusters were identified in the main poultry producing areas, moving sequentially from east to west. The average spread rate of the epidemic front wave was estimated to be 5.5 km/week. It increased from February 2017 and was negatively associated with the duck holding density. : HPAI-H5N8 infections varied over time and space in France. Intense transmission events occurred at the early stages of the epidemic, followed by long-range jumps in the disease spread towards its end. Findings support strict control strategies in poultry production as well as the maintenance of high biosecurity standards for poultry holdings. Factors and mechanisms driving HPAI spread need to be further investigated.


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