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Avian Flu outbreak declared at O’Keefe Ranch in Spallumcheen

O’Keefe Ranch in Spallumcheen has declared an Avian Flu outbreak after several birds died suddenly.

In a statement Tuesday evening, the ranch said the possibility of an outbreak was known on Sept. 17 and confirmed the following day.

The Avian Flu (H5N1) is a federally regulated disease that is spreading worldwide. The first case reported in B.C. was in the North Okanagan in April.

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The ranch says said birds remained winterized for an extended period of time to reduce exposure, and they remained quarantined in their pens for months afterward.

“Our birds are pretty spoiled,” said Tambria Shortt, ranch hand.

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“We knew the quarantine was hard on them when our male Tom Turkey, New Orleans, decided to sit on a clutch of chicken eggs. He was even a great mother after they hatched. This is just a really hard thing to go through.”

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O’Keefe Ranch began letting their birds out on a rotation basis over the summer and continued to do so in September.

The sudden death of a few birds led the Ranch to notify the authorities for further investigations.

A section of the ranch will remain quarantined until the decontamination process is completed, which is expected to take several weeks or longer.

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“The Ranch will remain open to the public with very clear boundaries in place,” said ranch manager Sherrilee Franks.

“We feel confident the remainder of the grounds are safe and we are happy to report the other animals at the ranch have not been affected. This has been a very trying time for everyone involved and there have been many tears shed.”

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