Quarantines lifted at Abbotsford farms as H5N1 confirmed in Chilliwack

Officials identify avian influenza strain found last week on a Chilliwack backyard chicken farm as highly pathogenic H5N1

The strain of avian influenza detected on a Chilliwack backyard chicken farm last week is different from that which prompted the destruction of more than 200,000 birds in December, according to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA).

The CFIA announced Saturday that avian influenza had been detected at a “non-commercial” operation with 95 egg laying chickens, according to the CFIA. The agency confirmed that the virus is a “high pathogenic H5N1” strain. The B.C. farms affected in December were afflicted with a highly pathogenic H5N2 strain. An H5N1 strain of avian flu was discovered in Washington State in January 2015.

In its statement Saturday, the CFIA said the same disease control measures apply following the discovery of either strain.

That will include the destruction of all remaining birds at the infected location.

“This new infected premises reminds us that risks for new infections remain a concern,” the CFIA said in its news release. “Monitoring and surveillance activities continue to be a very important part of controlling this outbreak. It is important that all bird owners have good biosecurity measures in place to protect their flocks from infection.”

The agency also announced Saturday that quarantines had been lifted from three farms in Abbotsford that had been affected by the avian influenza outbreak.

It has been three weeks since the barns have been cleaned and disinfected.

Despite the end of those quarantines, surveillance operations will continue for 90 days after the last barn is cleaned and disinfected.

The discovery of the newly infected premises will likely extend that monitoring period into May.

The CFIA continues to stress that avian influenza does not pose a risk to humans when poultry products “are properly handled and cooked.”

The current outbreak in the Fraser Valley began on Dec. 1 at a Greendale broiler breeder farm where 13,000 chickens had to be culled.

From there it spread to a number of farms in Abbotsford, with the last confirmed case at a commercial farm in Langley on Dec. 17 where 11,800 chickens had to be euthanized.

The total number of affected birds as of the new year was 245,600.

The virus also was also detected south of the border in December as ducks tested positive in Lynden, Wash., just 15 kilometres from the Fraser Valley cluster. Three captive falcons that were fed hunter-killed wild birds also tested positive in the U.S.

-with files from Paul J. Henderson/Black Press

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