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B.C. bird flu outbreak ‘concerning,’ minister says, with 10 farms now infected

Click to play video: 'Avian flu outbreak taking heavy toll on B.C. farmers'
Avian flu outbreak taking heavy toll on B.C. farmers
WATCH: Farmers in British Columbia's Fraser Valley are facing unprecedented pressure from a nationwide avian flu outbreak, with multiple commercial poultry farms dealing with cases of the highly infectious virus. Neetu Garcha examines how the current bird flu is different from previous strains, and the precautions some farmers are taking to stop the spread – Nov 23, 2022

Farmers in British Columbia’s Fraser Valley are facing “intense disease pressure” from an avian flu outbreak in commercial farms that the agriculture minister says is concerning.

Lana Popham says normally avian flu aligns with bird migration seasons, but the latest infections in farms of the H5N1 virus have been consistent all year.

Read more: Avian flu detected at seven Fraser Valley commercial poultry farms

The province said Monday that seven commercial farms in Abbotsford and Chilliwack had been quarantined with avian flu, while on Tuesday, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency said three more farms in the Fraser Valley tested positive for the flu.

Click to play video: 'B.C. poultry and egg farmers increase safety measures to protect their birds from avian flu'
B.C. poultry and egg farmers increase safety measures to protect their birds from avian flu

Popham says the federal Canadian Food Inspection Agency takes the lead when a farm reports an infection, but B.C.’s chief veterinarian has been proactive in helping to prevent the spread of the disease.

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She says the testing lab is working seven days a week with the capacity for about 300 tests a day.

Read more: Bird flu fighters in B.C. face unprecedented challenge, as H5N1 spread across Canada

The minister says the inspection agency has protocols in place to deal with infected farms and that often means “depopulation,” or that the flocks will be culled.

She says the situation isn’t as bad as it was in 2004, when 17 million farm birds were destroyed.

“And we’re hoping it won’t get there,” Popham added.

 

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