The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), has posted the follow statement characterizing the HPAI H5N2 virus that was first detected on a Fraser Valley poultry farm 18 days ago. It is confirmed to be a reassortant between the Eurasian H5N8 virus and a North American avian flu virus.
The number of farms affected in Canada remains steady at 10 (see Infected Premises Chart), affecting nearly 240,000 birds.
The announcement this week of wild birds in neighboring Washington State testing positive for both a similar H5N8 virus and HPAI H5N2 (see OIE/APHIS: HPAI H5N8 & H5N2 Detected In Washington State Wild Birds) add yet another layer of complexity to this evolving story.
How and precisely when H5N8 arrived in North America has yet to be established, and steps are now underway to try to determine just how widespread this viral incursion has become. This from the CFIA website:
December 17, 2014
Scientists at the Canadian Food Inspection Agency's (CFIA) National Centre for Foreign Animal Disease (NCFAD) have confirmed that the virus detected in BC poultry is highly pathogenic avian influenza H5N2. This virus contains gene segments from the highly pathogenic Eurasian H5N8 virus, including the H5 gene, and segments from typical North American viruses, including the N2 gene.
This is the first time a Eurasian lineage highly pathogenic H5 virus has caused an outbreak of avian influenza in poultry in North America.
The appearance of this particular reassortant virus is significant due to its ability to cause high mortality in domestic poultry. The CFIA continues to take swift action in response to this virus.
While there are no reports of H5N2 related illness in humans, as a precautionary measure public health officials are monitoring workers who are exposed to affected poultry.
Wild bird testing conducted to date has not yet detected this strain in Canada. Further studies to evaluate the risk to wild birds are being undertaken.
Poultry farmers are encouraged to protect their flocks by employing strict biosecurity measures on farm, and immediately reporting suspicious symptoms to the CFIA.