CFIA declares B.C. avian flu-free

With three months’ distance from the cleanup at the last of the province’s infected poultry barns, the federal government has declared British Columbia free of highly pathogenic avian flu.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency said Monday it had notified the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) that B.C. is considered free of notifiable avian influenza, effective last Wednesday (June 3).

No new outbreaks of high-path H5N2 avian flu have been detected in the province since Dec. 19, 2014, CFIA said in its filing to the OIE, and cleaning and disinfection at the last infected barn was done on March 3.

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Since then, CFIA said, it’s run “enhanced surveillance in commercial poultry during a three-month period and all results were negative.”

The source of the B.C. outbreak — which saw 10 broiler and turkey farms, one egg farm and a “non-commercial” farm in the Fraser Valley affected with H5N2, and one “non-commercial” farm with H5N1 — remains listed in the report to the OIE as “unknown or inconclusive.”

“Enhanced active” surveillance will continue in B.C., so as “to establish that B.C. has an equivalent avian influenza status to the remainder of the West, Quebec and Atlantic Canada,” CFIA said.

Barring any new cases, a “routine” level of surveillance activities for avian flu in B.C.’s commercial poultry sector in B.C. is to resume this fall.

Trading partners who recognized the federal disease control zones in place in B.C. “may now choose to resume trade in poultry and poultry products” from the province, CFIA said, adding that Canada “will work toward the resumption of trade as quickly as possible.”

“Trade can resume”

The U.S. government has already accepted CFIA’s declaration, provincial Agriculture Minister Norm Letnick said in a separate release Tuesday.

“I am confident international trade can resume as normal with our other trading partners in the near future,” he said, describing CFIA’s declaration as “an important signal to global markets that British Columbia’s poultry industry is open for business.”

Jurisdictions which have have banned or limited imports of poultry and poultry products from all of Canada since the B.C. outbreaks last December are expected to keep restrictions in place only until Ontario is declared free of notifiable avian flu, CFIA said.

Ontario’s outbreak of high-path H5N2 so far involves just two commercial turkey farms and a commercial broiler operation in Oxford County, all of which were confirmed with the virus in April and all of which have since been “depopulated” of birds.

B.C.’s Letnick said Tuesday he was “grateful that the response plan developed by industry and government was successful in eliminating this outbreak.”

The declaration, he said, “could not have happened without the hard work and dedication of those working tirelessly on the ground. It is because of them B.C. poultry producers are now able to resume normal operations.” — Network


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