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Okanagan farm placed in quarantine after bird flu case confirmed

A bird flu case has been confirmed in the Okanagan.

The BC Government said that it has activated its emergency operations centre in response.

It pledged to work with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA).

The CFIA did not provide details of the case, but said it was confirmed in a poultry flock in the Regional District of North Okanagan on April 13.

It added: “The infected premises ha[ve] been placed under quarantine. CFIA has begun an investigation and will be establishing movement control measures on other farms within that area.”

<who> Photo credit: 123RF

The bird is infected with the highly pathogenic strain of flu known as H5N1.

Outbreaks of the strain have been detected in Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Ontario and Alberta since late 2021.

So far, about 260,000 birds have been euthanized or killed by the virus in Canada.

Approximately 166,000 of those were in Alberta and 84,000 were in Ontario.

While most forms of avian flu are mild, H5N1 can cause serious disease and death in birds.

BC Minister of Agriculture and Food Lana Popham said her ministry has been working with the CFIA to “ensure enhanced prevention and preparedness measures” due to the outbreaks in other parts of Canada.

"Despite these efforts, the CFIA has confirmed the presence of avian influenza at a farm in the Regional District of North Okanagan.

“The CFIA is leading the investigation and response, with provincial support for testing, mapping, surveillance and disposal.

“The ministry has also activated its emergency operations centre and will work with the CFIA, producers, industry and other stakeholders to effectively respond to this outbreak and any others that may occur in BC.”

Popham urged poultry owners to monitor their birds for flu.

The deputy chief veterinarian, meanwhile, has issued an order requiring all BC commercial poultry flocks containing over 100 birds to be moved indoors until the spring migration ends in May.

"If avian influenza is suspected, poultry producers should immediately contact their local veterinarian or the provincial Animal Health Centre for advice and information,” Popham said.

"The public health risk is extremely low and there is no risk to food safety.”

– With files from the Canadian Press

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