Vigilant Canadians check another farm for suspected bird flu

Authorities in Canada are now investigating a second suspected outbreak of bird flu in backyard poultry on Prince Edward Island.

The first case of H5 avian flu was detected in the eastern province of Prince Edward Island where twenty-nine domestic fowl on the family farm had to be destroyed after four died and one tested positive for an H5 avian flu virus.

Dr. Jim Clark, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CIFA) director of animal health, says all the birds in the present investigation at the moment appear to be healthy.

Clark says the second quarantine has provided further evidence the virus is the less dangerous and a low pathogenic type as no birds are ill there and the fact that none of the chickens in the first case became ill may serve as further evidence.

No contact is evident either with live birds or through foot traffic with the original infected farm, but authorities have placed the second farm under quarantine as a precaution and swabs have been taken to see whether the virus is present there.

The CIFA says tests have yet to confirm whether the four goslings died of a North American H5 strain or an Asian strain and whether the virus strain is a low or high pathogen.

Forty poultry, including chickens, geese and ducks have been culled but authorities say there is no evidence of human infection or any threat to public health.

CIFA has stressed that the measures taken are standard precautionary measures and that there is no evidence to indicate that the H5N1 is present in Canada.

The quarantine was initiated when investigators learned there was a high level of traffic of people and possibly poultry between the two farms.

Both farms have free-range backyard poultry but no orders have been issued for the culling of birds in the second farm.

The deadly H5N1 bird flu virus strain first appeared in South East Asia in 2003 and has since spread to other parts of Asia, Africa and Western and Eastern Europe.

To date there have been 227 confirmed cases of humans infected with H5N1 over the last two-and-a-half years, of which 129 have died.

Since the discovery of the virus, local authorities have been working closely with the Public Health Agency of Canada, who have sent three epidemiologists to the Island to help with the investigation.


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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