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Birds destroyed at flu-stricken Man. turkey farm

The Manitoba turkey breeding operation that played unwilling host to the province’s first cases of notifiable avian flu is, for now, bird-free.

All birds at the farm in the Rural Municipality of Rockwood, just northwest of Winnipeg, have been “humanely destroyed,” the Canadian Food Inspection Agency said in a statement Monday.

Disposal is now in the preparation stage and “will be consistent with provincial environmental regulations and internationally accepted disease-control guidelines,” CFIA said.

The farm was confirmed last week to have birds infected with a low-severity (“low-path”) strain of avian influenza H5N2.

Two other poultry farms that had contact with the breeder operation are still under precautionary quarantine and close monitoring for signs of illness, the agency said.

Once the disposal process is complete, CFIA said, the agency will oversee the cleaning and disinfecting of barns, vehicles, equipment and tools.

While bird flu can be devastating on an affected commercial poultry farm, human health experts’ concern is that a “high-path” strain such as the infamous H5N1 could mutate or combine with another flu virus such as H1N1 that could spread more easily between people.

H5N1 since 2003 has killed a few hundred people overseas, generally through direct contact with infected birds or their fluids.

Avian flu is not a food safety risk when poultry and poultry products are properly handled and cooked.

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