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As avian flu spreads in the south, Canadian authorities release 'proactive' monitoring results

Canadian Food Inspection Agency in Ottawa on Wednesday, June 26, 2019. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick ) Canadian Food Inspection Agency in Ottawa on Wednesday, June 26, 2019. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick )

As reports of avian flu circulate south of the border, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has released the latest results from its national testing program.

Published Tuesday, the update clocks 600 tests of retail milk products, finding no evidence of the highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) among samples collected from coast to coast, including in Canada's western provinces, Ontario, Quebec and Atlantic Canada.

"Commercially sold milk and milk products remain safe to consume," the release from CFIA and the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) reads.

The agencies note that, even if fragments of the virus were found in samples, the pasteurization process that retail milk undergoes before sale would have rendered them harmless, along with other harmful bacteria and viruses. The testing, the release reads, is capable of detecting even non-infectious fragments of HPAI.

Milk samples among indicators

The cross-country testing program comes as part of what federal and international authorities are calling the One Health approach, a "proactive" monitoring regimen designed to detect dangers to public health before their impacts are felt.

Testing milk samples runs parallel to passive monitoring of the virus among live cattle. HPAI is a mandatory reportable disease in all animals, though no suspected cases of the disease have been received by government agencies.

"HPAI fragments are not present in milk," the release concluded. "This supports current reports that the virus has not been detected in Canadian dairy cows." Top Stories

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