A cull of about 60,000 birds on a B.C. poultry farm, where an H5 strain of avian flu was recently found, is now complete, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency said Wednesday.
The birds were euthanized using carbon dioxide under supervision from federal and provincial animal welfare experts and a representative from the B.C. SPCA, the agency reported.
The birds’ carcasses are being composted inside the barns, and temperatures are being monitored to ensure the virus is “effectively inactive.”
Meanwhile, quarantines continue for 22 other poultry farms within a three-km radius of the infected farm.
The other farms are “being closely monitored for signs of illness,” CFIA said, but so far all other commercial flocks tested within that three-km zone — whether for avian flu surveillance or for marketing purposes — have turned up negative for the disease.
A 23rd farm, which falls outside the three-km radius, but is tied to the infected farm through equipment moved from one farm to the other, also remains under quarantine.
The agency on Saturday announced that the infected farm was confirmed to have birds carrying an H5 strain of avian flu, although early tests indicated it may be “low-path,” or low in pathogenicity.
Testing is still underway at a CFIA lab to confirm the pathogenicity, subtype and strain of the virus found on the farm. Results should be “known within days,” CFIA said Monday.
CFIA didn’t say in any release where the H5-positive poultry farm is located, but Reuters reported Jan. 23 that the infected farm is a turkey operation in the Fraser River valley.
That region includes most of B.C.’s poultry production and has had outbreaks of bird flu before, the biggest of which was in 2004.
One “high-path” H5 avian flu strain, H5N1, has gained notoriety as having also killed about 250 people overseas since 2003. Experts in zoonotic diseases have said H5N1 runs a risk of mutating or combining with a “higher-path” flu bug and could then spread to humans on a pandemic scale.