NEWS

Avian flu: CFIA to provide Fraser Valley update this afternoon

12/06/2014 02:59 EST | Updated 02/05/2015 05:59 EST
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency is expected to provide an update this afternoon on the avian flu outbreak in B.C.'s Fraser Valley.

The teleconference, which will include the province's chief medical health officer, is scheduled for 1 p.m. PT.

A cull of infected poultry is already underway at four Fraser Valley farms, where some 80,000 birds are being euthanized. Canada's chief veterinary officer has said the federal government will compensate farms for each bird destroyed.

The federal government has confirmed the type of avian flu found at a turkey farm in Abbotsford and a chicken farm in Chilliwack as the highly pathogenic H5N2.

Further testing at two other nearby farms that received chickens from the Chilliwack site have confirmed H5 avian flu, but the strain has yet to be identified.

​There have been three previous outbreaks in Canada involving the low-path strain of H5N2 — two in B.C. and one in Manitoba. 

Officials have cautioned that the virus does not pose a risk to consumers if poultry meat is properly handled and cooked, though in rare cases it can be transmitted to people who work in close contact with the animals.

The B.C. Poultry Association has said it is confident biosecurity measures will be able to stop the spread of avian flu in the region.

No human has become ill from an H5 influenza outbreak, according to public health officials.

But world markets have reacted to the B.C. outbreak, leading to several countries including Japan, South Korea and China to impose trade restrictions.

A ban in Hong Kong covers any poultry meat or products from the Fraser Valley Regional District. Hong Kong imported 7,000 tonnes of frozen poultry and about 170,000 poultry eggs from Canada between January and October of this year.

Hong Kong has had its own problems with avian flu, including an H5N1 outbreak in 2011 that lead to the slaughter of more than 19,000 birds and a ban on the sale of live poultry for three weeks.

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