B.C.'s Ministry of Agriculture and Food said the risk of avian flu rises during the spring and fall as wild birds migrate to and through B.C. (Lindsey Shuey/Republican-Herald via AP)

Chilliwack avian flu outbreak may be linked to wild bird migration

An investigation at a Greendale area farm continues, with producers asked to keep birds indoors

B.C.’s Ministry of Agriculture and Food says an avian flu outbreak in Chilliwack may be a sign of increased risk as the fall bird migration begins. The risk of avian influenza to poultry farms increases each spring and fall with the migration of wild waterfowl and other wild birds to and through British Columbia.

The outbreak at a Greendale area commercial poultry farm first appeared on the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) website Tuesday (Sept. 13). The CFIA confirmed the presence of the H5 strain Friday afternoon (Sept. 16) and said the farm has been placed under quarantine. The Ministry has notified other poultry producers within a 10-kilometre radius and the CFIA is leading an investigation with provincial support for testing, mapping, surveillance and disposal.

“B.C.’s Ministry of Agriculture and Food continues to work closely with the CFIA and the B.C. poultry industry to ensure enhanced prevention and preparedness measures are in place to protect poultry flocks, particularly as the fall bird migration begins,” a news release noted. “B.C.’s chief veterinarian has issued an order requiring regulated poultry producers with quota under Canada’s supply management system to keep birds indoors until further notice.”

Since mid-April, the CFIA has confirmed 19 cases of avian influenza in commercial and small flocks in B.C.

Currently, the CFIA has identified nine outbreaks in B.C. impacting an estimated 183,000 birds.

For smaller operations, provincial government veterinary specialists will soon be hosting public information sessions in 11 communities to help small-flock poultry owners prevent, recognize and report the virus. Sessions are being scheduled for late September until November in the Fraser Valley, Cariboo, Okanagan, Lower Mainland, Prince George area and Vancouver Island.

In the meantime, all poultry owners are encouraged to enhance current biosecurity measures and to familiarize themselves with the signs of avian influenza and the appropriate reporting stream.

The Wild Bird Mortality Investigation Program hotline, 1 866 431-2473, enables members of the public to report sightings of sick or dead wild birds.

While the CFIA takes outbreaks seriously, their website reiterates that there is no evidence that HPAI can be transmitted to humans who eat cooked poultry or eggs.

RELATED: Avian flu detected at Chilliwack poultry farm

RELATED: Avian flu confirmed in some Canada geese at Mill Lake in Abbotsford


@ProgressSports
eric.welsh@theprogress.com

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