ARCHIVED - Update on avian influenza situation in British Columbia

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December 6, 2014

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is continuing its investigation into an outbreak of avian influenza on previously identified farms in British Columbia's Fraser Valley. These sites continue to be under quarantine to control disease spread.

Avian influenza is highly contagious between birds and can spread rapidly and it can be anticipated that additional at-risk farms may be identified in the coming days.

A fifth site has been placed under quarantine following higher than normal mortality rates observed by a turkey producer located near Abbotsford. Samples were collected and tested by the Province of BC and avian influenza H5 was confirmed. The CFIA is collecting samples and will conduct testing to confirm these results.

Just as the CFIA conducted an investigation following the findings at the first two premises, the CFIA will fully trace out all movement in and out of this site. This may lead to further premises being quarantined. This is normal and not unexpected.

The fact that this farmer came forward and provided his birds for sampling shows confidence amongst the farm community that current control measures are working and all players in the system and are working cooperatively. As stated previously, the CFIA will continue to advise the public and the poultry industry if additional sites are confirmed to be affected.

Poultry farmers are urged to take an active role in protecting their flocks by employing strict biosecurity measures on their property, and immediately reporting any suspicious symptoms to the CFIA.

Yesterday, the CFIA began humanely euthanizing and disposing of all birds on the infected premises of one of the farms in accordance with provincial environmental regulations and internationally accepted disease control guidelines and will continue over the coming days.

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 that do not have consistent contact with infected birds. Public health authorities stand ready to take precautionary measures as warranted.

The CFIA has mobilized all available resources to manage this situation. The Agency continues to work closely with the Province of British Columbia, the owners of the infected birds, and the poultry industry to manage this outbreak.

For more information on avian influenza and measures poultry farmers can take to protect their flocks, please visit the CFIA web site at inspection.gc.ca.

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