It’s been less than two weeks since we learned of the outbreak of HPAI H5N2 on two farm in the Fraser Valley region of British Columbia (see Fraser Valley B.C. Culling Poultry After Detecting H5 Avian Flu). While this H5N2 bird flu strain is highly pathogenic to birds, it is considered to have very low potential for infecting humans.
While there were initial hopes that the biosecurity measures in place would limit the impact to these two sites, over past week we’ve seen a slow trickle of reports of other farms in the area affected.
So far this outbreak is nowhere near the scale of what we saw in 2004 with H7N3, but not as well contained as either of the two LPAI H5N2 outbreaks of the last decade (2005 & 2009). According to a Globe & Mail report last night, more than 150,000 birds have either died or will be culled.
The following CFIA (Canadian Food Inspection Agency) report brings the total to 7 farms (with two separate operations on one of the farms), and mentions testing at a 9th facility is underway. It would not be unexpected if additional sites are identified in the coming days.
December 10, 2014
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is continuing its investigation into an outbreak of avian influenza in British Columbia's Fraser Valley. As part of this investigation, two additional farms have been identified as having avian influenza.
The province of British Columbia has confirmed the presence of avian influenza on these farms. This identification of additional farms is not unexpected as avian influenza is highly contagious between birds and can spread rapidly.
Both of these farms are close to one of the initial farms identified as part this outbreak.
The fact that these farms were identified quickly underscores industry's commitment to supporting the response effort by immediately reporting any signs of illness.
In addition, another barn located on one of the previously-identified infected sites has been confirmed to have avian influenza. As this barn is legally considered a separate business entity, we are treating it as a new infected premises, bringing the total to eight.
The province of British Columbia has also notified the CFIA of another farm where avian influenza is suspected. If confirmed, this would be the ninth infected premises. Testing is underway, and results are expected within the next day.
As part of regular investigation activities, the Agency is fully tracing movements in and out of these sites. This may lead to further premises being identified and depopulated, which would not be unexpected.
Birds have been humanely euthanized on four farms, and depopulation activities have begun on the fifth farm. The remaining farms will be depopulated in the coming days.
The CFIA continues to urge poultry farmers to take an active role in protecting their flocks by employing strict biosecurity measures on their property, and to immediately report any suspicious symptoms to the CFIA.
Avian influenza viruses do not pose risks to food safety when poultry and poultry products are properly handled and cooked.
The CFIA has mobilized all available resources to manage this situation. The Agency continues to work closely with the Province of British Columbia, the owners of the infected birds, and the poultry industry to manage this outbreak.
For more information on avian influenza and measures poultry farmers can take to protect their flocks, please visit the CFIA web site at inspection.gc.ca.
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