B.C. farms’ bird flu-related quarantines lifted

Just nine properties in British Columbia’s Fraser Valley remain quarantined out of 45 that saw restrictions imposed following the appearance of avian influenza on two Abbotsford-area poultry farms.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency announced Thursday it had removed restrictions on 22 farms that had completed a 21-day surveillance and testing period.

The testing period followed CFIA’s approval of composting operations on the second of the two farms confirmed to have cases of avian flu. All testing on the 22 nearby premises in question turned up negative.

Cleaning and disinfection work were completed last week on the second farm. Canada would regain its status as free of notifiable avian influenza if no more cases are found in the next three months.

Tens of thousands of birds were gassed and composted at the two infected farms, which were confirmed on Jan. 24 and Feb. 11 respectively to have birds with a low-pathogenicity strain of bird flu.

Testing so far suggests the same “low-path” strain of H5N2 at both farms.

If the second farm’s strain is confirmed as “low-path,” Canada also gets to keep its World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) status as free of “high-path” bird flu, which it regained in April 2008 after cleanup of an outbreak of H7N3 on a poultry farm near Regina Beach, Sask.

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