Avian flu officially declared to be at an end in B.C.

Agriculture minister says B.C. poultry industry ready to begin exporting again.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency’s (CFIA) declaration that British Columbia is considered free of avian influenza was welcome news to provincial agriculture minister Norm Letnick.

After the federal agency issued an all-clear following a 90-day intensive surveillance period, Letnick issued a statement praising the CFIA, industry and local authorities for their quick action.

“I am grateful that the response plan developed by industry and government was successful in eliminating this outbreak. This 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.”

Letnick was also pleased that the United States has signalled it will allow Canadian poultry imports and hoped other trading partners will do the same in the near future.

“This declaration is an important signal to global markets that British Columbia’s poultry industry is open for business,” Letnick said.

He said the ministry is conducting a review for “lessons learned to apply to any future events.”

Since the H5N2 virus was detected at a broiler/breeder farm in Chilliwack and a turkey farm in Abbotsford in early December, more than 245,000 birds were killed with carbon dioxide gas and then composted in a bid to keep the deadly virus from spreading.

There were several outbreaks in the Langley area, resulting in the destruction of 53,000 table egg layers at one farm and 11,800 broilers/breeders at another.

As well, 85 birds at a small non-commercial operation in Aldergrove were destroyed.

The H5N2 bird flu virus was described as a Eurasian-North American hybrid that is especially deadly to birds.

It was the first time this type of avian flu virus has been seen in North America.