UPDATE: Two new broiler chicken farms in Abbotsford and a second barn on the fifth poultry farm have tested positive for avian flu; which brings the total number of infected areas in the Fraser Valley to eight.
According to the Canadian Food and Inspection Agency, the fifth poultry farm that was quarantined on the weekend had two barns. The first barn tested came back positive for avian flu and today, the second barn has also tested positive. The CFIA says although the barns are located on the same farm, the agency treats the two barns as two separate businesses.
The two new broiler chicken farms identified in Abbotsford today are separate operations where eggs are produced, hatched and the meat sold to grocery stores. One farm has 3,750 birds and the other has 5,100.
In spite of the CFIA putting in measures of a primary control zone, Dr. Harpreet Kochhar, Canada chief veterinary officer says there is a possibility the influenza could spread to other farms. This is due in large part to the pathogenic makeup of the virus and it being highly contagious.
With the addition of the two new farms and one barn, the total number of birds that will be humanely euthanized is 155,000. The CFIA says 66,000 birds have already been destroyed.
After a fifth poultry farm was quarantined in B.C. on the weekend due to avian flu, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency has set up a primary control zone to keep the outbreak contained.
The primary control zone, which covers the southern half of B.C. from the Pacific Ocean east to the Alberta border, north to Highway 16 and south to the US border, will remain in place until the CFIA is confident the virus is contained, said Dr. Harpreet Kochhar, Canada’s chief veterinary officer.
The agency has divided the control zone into three sub-zones: infected (a boundary of up to 3 km of any of the five infected farms); restricted (a boundary up to 10 km) and security (remainder of the zone beyond 10 km). The control zone (and sub-zones) will involve movement restrictions to any birds in captivity, equipment and feed. If any poultry farm owners or producers require movement outside the primary control zone, they will require a permit.
Over the weekend, CFIA officials said they have found “no direct connections” between the latest quarantined farm and the four others that have been affected by the virus.
Kochhar also noted that due to the highly contagious nature of the H5N2 strain currently affecting the Fraser Valley farms, there is still a possibility that the avian flu could be discovered on other farms.
“Given that there is a big population, or a very dense population, of poultry industry down there, it was not unexpected that we would find any other additional at-risk farms because avian influenza is highly contagious,” said Kochhar.
“This cannot be characterized at this moment to be an out-of-control outbreak, however, we are expecting that given the virus virulence and the contagiousness of the disease that we might find some other farms which could come out positive.”
The destruction of as many as 80,000 birds at four poultry farms in British Columbia’s Fraser Valley has already begun in the effort to stem the spread of avian flu. The addition of a fifth farm could increase the total of culled birds to as much as 140,000.
Officials with the CFIA said they are systematically destroying the birds according to international guidelines, starting with a broiler-breeder chicken farm in Chilliwack, B.C., where the H5N2 strain of flu was first detected.
The highly contagious virus has spread despite a three-kilometre containment zone around the infected farms, and Kocchar says that may be due to migratory birds.
The outbreak of the highly-virulent strain of the flu has prompted several countries or regions, including Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong, South Korea, Singapore, South Africa and Mexico, to ban poultry products from the B.C. or the whole of Canada. The U.S. has imposed restrictions on all poultry products from B.C.
Kochhar said “these markets will be regained” once it has been proven the virus is under control.
WATCH: A fifth farm in the Fraser Valley has now tested positive for the avian flu virus. And as Julia Foy reports, officials expect the current outbreak to get worse before it gets better.
-with files from Canadian Press