H5N2 avian flu spreads down Mississippi flyway

(Scott Bauer photo courtesy ARS/USDA)

Two more states whose migrating birds’ flight paths cross over much of the Prairies and Ontario now have outbreaks of highly pathogenic H5N2 avian flu in commercial turkeys.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency on Tuesday expanded its restrictions on cross-border imports of U.S. birds, eggs and uncooked poultry products to include those from Missouri.

The U.S. Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) confirmed H5N2 in birds at two turkey farms in southern Missouri’s Jasper and Moniteau counties, on Sunday and Monday respectively.

CFIA hasn’t yet expanded its bans to Arkansas, but likely will soon. APHIS on Wednesday confirmed H5N2 in a commercial turkey flock in Boone County, which is on that state’s northern border with Missouri.

Travellers to Canada from any H5N2-positive U.S. states are prohibited from bringing in live birds, hatching eggs, eggs, yolks, egg whites, feathers, poultry manure, poultry litter, laboratory materials containing poultry products or byproducts, and any poultry meat other than “fully cooked, canned, commercially sterile meat products.”

The restrictions also apply to commercial imports of live poultry, birds and raw or untreated poultry products from the specific quarantine zones within the affected states until further notice, CFIA said. Live pet birds may be brought into Canada if they come with official APHIS certification.

CFIA again emphasized Tuesday there is no food safety risk with the products in question and its restrictions are in place to keep H5N2 from spreading into other parts of Canada.

According to the Reuters news service on Wednesday, countries including Taiwan, Singapore and Nicaragua have already moved to block poultry from Missouri and other states with H5N2-positive farms.

Reuters also noted shares in companies such as Tyson Foods, Pilgrim’s Pride and Sanderson Farms slipped Wednesday in trading, on concerns over further import bans against U.S. poultry.

Flyways

Missouri and Arkansas become the second and third states along the Mississippi flyway to report cases of this strain of H5N2, which was found at a turkey operation in central Minnesota last Thursday.

The Mississippi flyway is a flight path for migratory birds running up from the Gulf of Mexico, mainly into Ontario, Manitoba and Saskatchewan, as well as Canada’s northern territories, northwestern Quebec and the Peace region of Alberta and British Columbia.

Other U.S. states along the flyway but so far unaffected include Alabama, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Ohio, Tennessee and Wisconsin.

The H5N2 strain is confirmed as the same reported in birds in recent months in four Pacific flyway states, California, Idaho, Oregon and Washington. CFIA’s import restrictions already apply on birds, eggs and poultry products from those states.

On the Canadian side of the Pacific flyway, federal quarantines remain in place at a Langley, B.C. table egg farm and at a “non-commercial” Aldergrove, B.C. farm.

The same strain of H5N2 was confirmed in December in birds at those farms, as well as 10 other Fraser Valley farms that are now depopulated of birds and disinfected.

Another non-commercial farm at Chilliwack was confirmed last month with high-path H5N1 in its birds, and is also still under CFIA quarantine. — AGCanada.com Network

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