A small non-commercial poultry operation in Aldergrove has become the latest victim of an avian flu outbreak in the Fraser Valley.
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) reported all 85 birds at the Aldergrove location were destroyed on the weekend.
It is the first case of avian flu to affect a non-commercial poultry operation since the outbreak was first reported on Dec. 1.
Since the H5N2 virus was detected at a broiler/breeder farm in Chilliwack and a turkey farm in Abbotsford, a total of 12 sites have been affected and more than 240,000 birds have been killed with carbon dioxide gas and then composted in a bid to keep the deadly virus from spreading.
Besides the Aldergrove outbreak, there have been two other cases in the Langley area, resulting in the destruction of 53,000 table egg layers at one farm and 11,800 broilers/breeders at another.
The H5N2 bird flu virus is described as a Eurasian-North American Hybrid that is especially deadly to birds.
It’s the first time this type of avian flu virus has been seen in North America.
“The appearance of this particular reassortant (genetic material from two or more viruses) virus is significant due to its ability to cause high mortality in domestic poultry,” a CFIA statement said.
There have been no reports of H5N2 related illness in humans, but public health officials are monitoring workers who have been exposed to affected poultry, the agency said.
The virus has been detected in wild birds, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), which has reported the H5N2 strain was detected in northern pintail ducks just across the border in Lynden, Wash.
The USDA also reported a different strain of avian flu was discovered in in a Oregon backyard poultry flock.
On Tuesday, the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) banned Canadian birds and bird products originating in or transiting through the control zone in B.C. from crossing the border.
The ban covers uncooked chicken, turkey, duck, or goose; raw eggs; live birds; hatching eggs; composted manure; and meat from hunter-harvested birds.
Pet birds must have APHIS-approved health certificates and will be required to spend 30 days in quarantine.
More information can be found online at http://www.aphis.usda.gov/wps/portal/aphis/home/
The worst avian flu outbreak in Canada was recorded in 2004, affecting 42 commercial farms and 11 non-commercial operations in the Fraser Valley and leading to the destruction of 17 million birds.
– with files from the Chilliwack Times