Avian flu in British Columbia confirmed as H5N2

CFIA confirms high-path H5N2 avian influenza strain at two farms in British Columbia.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA)'s testing at the National Centre for Foreign Animal Diseases has confirmed the strain causing the avian influenza outbreak on two farms in British Columbia's Fraser Valley as a highly-pathogenic H5N2 virus.

British Columbia has informed CFIA that preliminary test results from two additional farms that were quarantined Dec. 4 are presumptive positive for H5 avian influenza. CFIA will conduct further confirmatory testing.

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. Any illness would be mild. Public health authorities are ready to take precautionary measures as required.

H5N2 is a subtype that is known to affect wild and domestic birds. A highly pathogenic virus causes severe illness and death in birds, particularly poultry, whereas a low pathogenic virus causes less severe illness and lower rates or mortality.

A low-pathogenic H5N2 avian influenza virus caused outbreaks in Manitoba in 2010 and British Columbia in 2009.

All birds on the infected premises will be humanely euthanized in the coming days, under CFIA supervision. When animals affected by a disease are ordered destroyed by the CFIA under the Health of Animals Act, the farmer is also informed that they will receive compensation. CFIA is dedicated to working directly with affected producers so that the compensation process runs as smoothly as possible.

As CFIA's investigation progresses, any additional control measures will be assessed on a case-by-case basis.

Poultry farmers are reminded to practice a high level of biosecurity to reduce the risk of disease spread, and report any suspicious symptoms in their flocks to CFIA.

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