Hens near Chilliwack catch H5N1 avian flu

(Stephen Ausmus photo courtesy ARS/USDA)

About 95 layer hens on a “non-commercial” farm near Chilliwack are the Fraser Valley’s latest cases of avian influenza, but not of the same strain seen at 12 other farms in December.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency on Saturday announced a quarantine on the Chilliwack farm after confirming, effective Feb. 2, that table egg-laying birds at the site are infected with highly-pathogenic (“high-path”) H5N1 avian flu.

The same H5N1 strain was found in wild birds in neighbouring Washington state last month, but this marks the first appearance of the strain in British Columbia during the province’s latest avian flu outbreak, CFIA said in a release.

The new case, CFIA said, “reminds us that risks for new infections remain a concern. Monitoring and surveillance activities continue to be a very important part of controlling this outbreak.”

Given that no other avian flu cases had been found in birds in the province since December, the new case poses a weeks-long setback in federal and provincial efforts to restore B.C.’s status as free of avian flu.

That said, CFIA also announced Saturday it has lifted the quarantines set up at three commercial farms, all in the Abbotsford area. The farms’ birds had been confirmed with H5N2 in December.

The quarantines were officially lifted at a broiler breeder farm and a turkey farm on Saturday, while another turkey farm saw its quarantine lifted Wednesday (Feb. 4).

It’s been 21 days since bird depopulations, cleanings and disinfections were completed at the three farms, which thus are now considered to be free of avian flu, CFIA said.

Zones unchanged

The lifting of the quarantines won’t change the boundaries for the “primary control zone” in the province, nor for the “restricted” zone which runs for up to 10 km out from all infected premises, the agency said.

The primary control zone covers the entire southern half of B.C. south of Highway 16. Movement restrictions in the control zones still apply to poultry products, poultry byproducts and all live captive birds including poultry, fowl and pet birds.

The control zones will stay in place until 90 days after cleaning and disinfection work is done at all infected properties, CFIA said. If no more cases of avian influenza are found in that period, the zone can again be considered avian flu-free.

Cleaning and disinfection work are still underway at the other H5N2-infected properties, a CFIA spokesperson said in a separate email Friday. The agency couldn’t give an estimate on when work will be completed at the remaining sites. — AGCanada.com Network

 

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