OTTAWA, January 24, 2009 — The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has confirmed the presence of H5 avian influenza virus in a commercial poultry operation in southern British Columbia.

Pathogenicity refers to the severity of the illness caused in birds. Tests to date indicate that the strain of AI in this case is low pathogenic. Further testing is underway to confirm pathogenicity and to determine the precise subtype and strain of the virus.

Avian influenza viruses do not pose risks to food safety when poultry and poultry products are properly handled and cooked. Avian influenza rarely affects humans, unless they have had close contact with infected birds. Nevertheless, public health authorities will take precautionary measures as warranted.

All birds on the infected premises will be humanely euthanized and disposed of, in accordance with provincial environmental regulations and internationally accepted disease control guidelines. Once all birds have been removed, the CFIA will oversee the cleaning and disinfection of the barns, vehicles, equipment and tools to eliminate any infectious material that may remain.

In order to limit any potential virus spread, the CFIA is applying restrictions on the movement of poultry and poultry products within three kilometres of the infected premises. The CFIA is relying on all backyard poultry owners to monitor their flocks and immediately report sick or dead birds. Poultry owners are urged to take an active role in protecting their flocks by employing strict biosecurity measures on their property.

The CFIA is investigating any recent movement of birds, bird products and equipment onto and off of the infected property.

Animal health and public health authorities from the Province of B.C., local poultry specialists and industry are actively collaborating in this response effort. The CFIA is conducting a thorough epidemiological investigation of the premises. A shared commitment by all involved has maximized the Agency's ability to contain and eliminate this situation as quickly as possible.

The CFIA is notifying the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) and international trading partners of this situation.

New information will be provided to the public as it becomes available.


Canadian Food Inspection Agency
Media relations: 613-773-6600