The H5N2 avian influenza outbreak that was first reported by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) in early December in the Fraser Valley area of British Columbia has now expanded to nine poultry farms, according to the Canadian agency.

British Columbia Image/EOZyo
British Columbia

According to a “Infected Premises” table published on Friday (see below), eight locations in Abbotsford and one in Chilliwack, British Columbia have been affected. Approximately 180,000 birds, turkeys and broiler/breeders, have been affected.

Avian influenza viruses do not pose risks to food safety when poultry and poultry products are properly handled and cooked. Avian influenza rarely affects humans that do not have consistent contact with infected birds. Any illness would be mild. Public health authorities are ready to take precautionary measures as required.

H5N2 is a subtype that is known to affect wild and domestic birds. A highly pathogenic virus causes severe illness and death in birds, particularly poultry, whereas a low pathogenic virus causes less severe illness and lower rates of mortality.

A low-pathogenic H5N2 avian influenza virus caused outbreaks in Manitoba in 2010 and British Columbia in 2009.

Because of the outbreak, half of British Columbia has been designated an avian flu control zone in an effort to limit the spread of the virus and reassure other countries that Canadian commercial poultry is safe.

The outbreak has prompted the US Department of Agriculture to temporarily suspend imports of live and raw poultry from the Canadian province of British Columbia.

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