Seven countries ban B.C. poultry due to avian flu

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VANCOUVER

Seven countries have restricted poultry imports from B.C. following a Fraser Valley avian influenza outbreak that has so far put five farms under quarantine and an estimated 140,000 birds facing slaughter.

The massive cull has already been completed at two of five affected farms, according to Dr. Jane Pritchard, B.C.’s chief veterinary officer.

Countries that have banned imports in one form or another are Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Korea, South Africa, United States and Mexico, officials said.

Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) chief veterinarian Dr. Harpreet Kochhar suspects the virus may have initially entered B.C. by way of migratory wildlife.

"Wild birds, migratory birds, maybe contributed to that," he said. "This is a normal process in a natural way, just like seasonal flu. You will see this come up now and then despite our best measures to protect the industry."

The CFIA believes the flu will spread since Fraser Valley poultry farms are in such close proximity that 42 additional farms are within three kilometres of one of the affected sites.

"This cannot be characterized at this moment to be an out-of-control outbreak, however, we are expecting … that we might find some other farms which would come out positive as avian influenza," Kochhar said.

The latest outbreak was discovered Friday and reported by the farmer and a confirmation was received early Saturday. There are up to 60,000 turkeys in the latest affected farm, near Abbotsford, B.C.

The only farms with "direct connection" are sites "three" and "four," where the farms had shared chickens with each other.

 

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