Friday, December 5, 2014

H5N2 identified in B.C. avian influenza outbreak

Federal officials have identified the avian influenza strain that has hit two flocks in British Columbia as the H5N2 strain.

It’s the same strain that hit flocks in British Columbia and Manitoba in 2009, but this time it’s highly pathogenic. The 2009 strain was much milder and classified low-pathogenic.

Two flocks, turkeys at Abbotsford and chickens at Chilliwack, were hit by outbreaks earlier this week.

About 50 to 75 nearby farms are now under quarantine.

Two more flocks which received birds from the original two flocks are being slaughtered as a precautionary measure.

So far officials have identified H5 avian influenza on those additional two farms, but have not yet determined if it’s H5N2.

This time the biggest loss is 18,000 turkeys. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has not said how many chickens are being slaughtered, but earlier reports said one flock was about 1,000 broilers.

In 2009 the outbreak led to the slaughter of 74,000 turkeys and chickens and 60,000 ducks.

In 2004, the H7N3 strain hit 42 commercial flocks and 11 backyard flocks and led to the slaughter of 17 million birds.

That outbreak prompted most countries to ban poultry from Canada.

This time Hong Kong, South Korea and Japan are the first to ban poultry from Canada.