Avian influenza outbreak confirmed as happening at Enderby farm

Bird flu confirmed at farm

UPDATE: 1:45 p.m.

An outbreak of avian influenza is confirmed on an Enderby broiler chicken farm.

While the province and Canadian Food Inspection Agency have not revealed the location of the farm, the Small Scale Meat Producers Association, in a notice to its members, locates the farm in the Enderby area.

"On April 12, a sample from a broiler farm near Enderby was confirmed to be avian influenza by the CDC lab in Burnaby, and the sample has been sent to the national lab in Winnipeg for confirmation that it is highly pathogenic avian influenza."

All producers within a 10-kilometre radius of the farm have been notified, the association says in a post on its website.

The group notes avian influenza can be transmitted directly from bird to bird through secretions and feces, and indirectly through human movement, contaminated feed, water, and equipment.

"Due to the threat and risks associated with AI, increased attention has been drawn to the ongoing need to protect domestic poultry through the effective use of on-farm biosecurity measures," the says.

The association says it is "imperative" that all producers follow enhanced biosecurity protocols to reduce the risk of spreading the disease.

Signs that could indicate HPAI include: a higher than normal death rate, sharp reduction in feed and water consumption, birds become very quiet, coughing, sneezing, discharge from eyes and beak, difficulty walking or a twisted neck, sharp drop in egg production, a bluish/purplish colour from lack of oxygen, and swelling around the eyes.

ORIGINAL: 9:05 a.m.

The province has confirmed an outbreak of avian influenza at a farm in the North Okanagan.

"With the recent confirmation of avian influenza in several provinces and U.S. states, the Ministry of Agriculture and Food has been working closely with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and B.C. poultry producers to ensure enhanced prevention and preparedness measures are being taken to protect poultry flocks in B.C." Minister of Agriculture and Food Lana Popham said in a press release issued Thursday morning.

"Despite these efforts, the CFIA has confirmed the presence of avian influenza at a farm in the Regional District of North Okanagan.

"The CFIA is leading the investigation and response, with provincial support for testing, mapping, surveillance and disposal. The ministry has also activated its emergency operations centre and will work with the CFIA, producers, industry and other stakeholders to effectively respond to this outbreak and any others that may occur in B.C."

While the location of the farm has not been released, it is believed to be in the Enderby area.

All poultry producers, including backyard poultry owners, are advised to increase biosecurity practices and to be vigilant and monitor for signs of the bird flu in their flocks.

"To further protect farmers and prevent the spread of avian influenza in B.C., the deputy chief veterinarian has issued an order requiring all commercial poultry flocks in the province with more than 100 birds to be moved indoors until the spring migration ends in May," Popham adds.

If avian influenza is suspected, poultry producers should immediately contact their local veterinarian or the provincial Animal Health Centre for advice and information.

"The public health risk is extremely low and there is no risk to food safety," says Popham.

"I know this is an incredibly stressful time for our poultry and egg producers. They have endured so much over the past two years. They have shown they are truly resilient. We are here to help, and we will work together to get through this."

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