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B.C.’s first avian flu outbreak of fall season detected in Chilliwack

Egg farm in Chilliwack ‘first confirmation’ of highly pathogenic bird flu where 8K birds euthanized
A Chilliwack poultry farm with 8,000 laying chickens was confirmed to be infected with avian influenza on Oct. 21, 2023, with the flock euthanized on Oct. 22, 2023. (BC Egg)

An outbreak of avian flu has been reported on a Chilliwack poultry farm.

It’s the first confirmation of the presence of highly pathogenic avian influenza in B.C. this fall, according to a Oct. 21 order of a primary control zone declared by Canadian Federal Inspection Agency (CFIA).

The outbreak is on a commercial egg farm in Chilliwack, where 8,000 layers were producing free-range eggs, said Amanda Brittain, information officer with the B.C. Poultry Association.

“We’ve been expecting this,” Brittain said. “We know that avian influenza moves with the fall migration of wild birds.”

Humane euthanization of the infected chickens took place in Chilliwack on Oct. 22.

Poultry producers are moving to “red-level biosecurity regulations,” in response.

“That means all farmers are taking extra precautions to keep their flocks safe,” she said.

RELATED: Last outbreak saw fact sheet for farmers

Precautions include changing footwear and clothes before entering barns, consistent sanitization of equipment, and keeping birds indoors.

B.C. Agriculture Minister Pam Alexis said the federal CFIA has the lead on this file, but she did confirm they are dealing with one case so far confirmed in Chilliwack.

“I can tell you there is no risk at all to the health of British Columbians; no shortages of food, or any of that. We’re just dealing with the one case right now.”

The province spent $5 million this past spring on education trying to get industry prepared for further outbreaks.

Asked if the minister had advice for farmers, she advised they: “follow those biosecurity standards to a tee, to ensure the safety of your flocks.”

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Jennifer Feinberg

About the Author: Jennifer Feinberg

I have been a Chilliwack Progress reporter for 20+ years, covering city hall, Indigenous, business, and climate change stories.
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