Thousands of birds dead after avian flu reported on two B.C. farms
Two poultry farms in British Columbia have been placed under quarantine after the Canadian Food Inspection Agency confirmed Tuesday an avian flu outbreak.
At a turkey farm in Abbotsford, B.C., half of the barn’s 11,000 birds have already died from the disease, according to Jane Pritchard, B.C.’s chief veterinary officer. At a second farm about eight kilometres away in Chilliwack, B.C., 1,000 of the farm’s 7,000 birds have died.
Pritchard told reporters Tuesday the remaining birds would be euthanized using carbon dioxide gas, then “composted” in the barn so the disease would not escape the building or go airborne. The CFIA will also oversee the disinfection of the barns, vehicles and tools once the infected animals are disposed of.
Canada’s Chief Veterinary Officer Harpreet Kochhar told reporters the virus strain was H5, but that it was too early to determine the subtype of the virus.
The H5N1 virus killed a Canadian in January who had recently travelled to China.
There are currently no new cases of human infection in Canada, and Kochhar said that human-to-human transmission of the virus is rare. He added that even the meat of an infected bird doesn’t pose a health threat if prepared properly.
Kochhar said more information would become available within days as further tests are carried out, and that “enhanced biosecurity practices” would be put in place.
Kochhar also said it was protocol to inform the country’s trading partners in these sorts of situations.
“I have reached out to the chief veterinary officer, my counterpart out there, in the U.S.,” he said. “We have shared whatever information we have at this point.”
Pritchard said the connection between the two barns had yet to be established, and it was unclear how two farms in different cities saw simultaneous outbreaks.
Though Pritchard declined to name the farms in question, she did say grocery stores might take a hit during the holiday season.
“The turkeys were 83 days of age, so they would have been targeted for the Christmas market.”