Canadian Food Inspection Agency confirms H5N1 avian influenza at poultry farms

Avian influenza confirmed

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has confirmed that birds at eight commercial poultry farms in the Fraser Valley and two small flocks in Merritt and Port McNeill have tested positive for the highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza virus bringing the total to 16 confirmed cases since Oct. 20.

The fall migration of wild birds is typically when the disease is at the highest risk of spreading from wild birds, usually waterfowl, to poultry on farms or in backyard flocks. Staff with B.C.'s Ministry of Agriculture and Food continue to work with the CFIA and poultry producers to ensure enhanced biosecurity measures are in place to try to limit the spread of disease and protect flocks.

B.C.'s chief veterinarian issued two orders in October to reduce the risk of the virus spreading, including restrictions on poultry events, such as shows, markets and auctions, as well as an order for commercial farms to keep their birds indoors.

The province also introduced a new $5-million Farmed Animal Disease Program earlier this year to help farmers prepare for the risk of animal diseases, such as avian influenza. The program helps fund the planning and purchase of equipment needed for disease response, training exercises, enhanced biosecurity measures, and the research and implementation of strategies to reduce the risk of infection and disease.

If people find a sick or dead bird, they should leave it where it is and report it to B.C.'s wild bird surveillance hotline at 1 866 431-BIRD (2473). For poultry owners who suspect their birds may have avian influenza, they should call their veterinarian, their nearest CFIA animal health office or the BC Animal Health Centre at 1 800 661-9903.

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