Avian flu outbreak in B.C. is high-path H5N2

(Scott Bauer photo courtesy ARS/USDA)

Tests have confirmed the avian influenza that’s killed thousands of birds at two British Columbia poultry farms is a “high-path” strain of H5N2.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency on Thursday confirmed the results from tests done at the National Centre for Foreign Animal Diseases in Winnipeg on samples from the two Fraser Valley farms — a turkey farm near Abbotsford and a broiler breeder farm across the Vedder River nearer Chilliwack.

A highly pathogenic (“high-path”) virus causes severe illness and death in birds, particularly poultry, whereas a low pathogenic (“low-path”) strain causes less severe illness and relatively few death losses in affected flocks.

Another two poultry operations in the same area as this week’s two outbreaks of H5N2 were quarantined Wednesday. The province’s preliminary test results from the two additional farms are “presumptive positive” for H5 avian flu, CFIA said Thursday.

CFIA said it will now run “further confirmatory testing” on samples from the two presumptive-positive farms, both of which had received birds from one of the two H5N2-infected farms.

CFIA reiterated Thursday it plans to have all birds on the infected farms humanely euthanized “in the coming days” under agency supervision. Any “additional control measures” will be assessed on a case-by-case basis, CFIA said.

The agency again also urged poultry farmers to practice a “high level of biosecurity” on their farms to reduce the risk of disease spread, and to report any “suspicious symptoms” in their flocks to CFIA.

H5N2, a subtype known to affect both wild and domestic birds, appeared in its low-path form on a pair of poultry farms near Abbotsford in early 2009, and again in low-path form in late 2010 on a turkey breeding operation in Manitoba’s Interlake region.

The high-path H5N2 confirmations Thursday have put a halt to Canada’s World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) status as free of high-path bird flu.

Canada has been considered high-path avian flu-free since April 2008, following an outbreak of high-path H7N3 on a poultry farm in southern Saskatchewan.

As of Wednesday, Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong and Taiwan are reported to have restricted imports of Canadian and/or B.C. poultry and poultry products following the confirmations at the two infected B.C. farms. — AGCanada.com Network

 

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