Sunday, December 04, 2022

Officials investigate suspected case of avian flu in Couchon Valley

Concerns about a possible outbreak of avian flu in the Cowichan Valley have prompted the Canadian Food Inspection Agency to identify a “compound of concern” in the region.

The B.C. Ministry of Agriculture and Food confirmed Friday that the CFIA is investigating reports of a herd that may have contracted the highly pathogenic H5N1 virus.

The Salt Spring Island Poultry Club said it has rescheduled its annual poultry show due to the threat of avian flu after a member in Couchon Bay was informed about possible cases within 12 kilometers of his farm in Mill Bay .

The update has yet to be confirmed by the CFIA, which has so far only confirmed one current H5N1 case in the province on April 13 at a farm in northern Okanagan.

That farm has been placed under quarantine as the CFIA conducts an investigation and movement controls on other farms in the area.

The CFIA says it does not release information about suspected cases, and will post the information on its website if H5N1 is confirmed at the Mill Bay campus.

The CFIA said last week it has been an “unprecedented” year for avian flu cases around the world, suspecting that migratory birds are responsible for spreading the virus.

BC’s worst avian flu outbreak occurred in 2004, when the H7N3 strain killed nearly 17 million birds in the Fraser Valley.

The disease is spread through contact with an infected bird, its feces or nasal secretions. Outbound farm birds are most at risk because they may come into direct contact with infected wild birds or their feces. Humans can also unknowingly carry the infection to the barn on their shoes or clothing.

-With files from The Canadian Press.

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