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Remaining B.C. bird flu quarantines lifted

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has lifted all its remaining restrictions on shipping or movement on birds and bird products in British Columbia’s Fraser Valley.

The restrictions were put in place following the discovery of low-pathogenicity (“low-path”) H5N2 avian influenza at an Abbotsford-area commercial poultry operation on Jan. 24.

Out of that investigation came the discovery on Feb. 11 of a second infected operation. All birds on both farms were gassed and composted on-site.

Infected farms must remain under CFIA surveillance for 21 days after barns, vehicles and equipment on the farms are cleaned and disinfected.

Both infected farms have now passed this 21-day period, CFIA said Friday, and are “free to introduce new birds onto the property and resume regular operation.”

In all, 45 farms that were near the infected properties, or that were connected by shared equipment or other contact, saw movement restrictions imposed after avian flu was found on the two farms.

“The fact that this outbreak was quickly contained and eliminated clearly demonstrates why Canada’s animal health system is among the best in the world,” federal Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz said in a release Friday.

“The co-operation of affected bird owners, industry and our provincial and municipal partners played a key role in the success of our response.”

“The coordinated efforts of all levels of government provided an unprecedented response to this outbreak,” B.C. Agriculture Minister Ron Cantelon said in CFIA’s release. “By working together, we were able to minimize the impact to industry and get those affected back into business as quickly as possible.”

As a final step in the outbreak response, CFIA said, the agency plans to conduct “broader testing” of poultry operations in B.C.

“Consistent with the guidelines of the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), this surveillance will allow Canada to regain its status as an avian influenza-free country,” CFIA wrote Friday.

Canada would also get to keep its OIE status as free of highly pathogenic (“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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