The Ministry of Agriculture and Food has confirmed “A Complex of Concern has been identified in the Cowichan Valley” in relation to avian influenza (bird flu).
According to the Salt Spring Island Poultry Club, a member was informed by the ministry that their birds in Mill Bay were within 12 kilometers of a backyard flock containing the virus and have been advised to take extra precautions.
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency is the lead agency in the matter. A CFIA spokesman said the only confirmed case so far is in the Okanagan and that the CFIA does not release information until suspected cases are confirmed.
On April 20, in response to a confirmed outbreak of avian influenza at an Okanagan farm, Agriculture and Food Minister Lana Popham said “better prevention and preparedness measures are being taken to protect poultry flocks in B.C.”
“All poultry producers, including backyard poultry owners, are advised to enhance their biosafety practices and remain vigilant and monitor for signs of avian influenza in their flocks,” Popam’s statement said. “To protect farmers and prevent the spread of avian influenza in B.C., the deputy chief vet has issued an order calling for all commercial poultry flocks with more than 100 birds in the province to be kept indoors until spring migration ends in May. Needs to be taken inside.”
Acknowledging the potential Couchon Valley case, ministry staff noted that it had not yet been posted to the CFIA’s growing checklist.
Symptoms of avian influenza include, but are not limited to, decreased egg production, respiratory illness, diarrhea, decreased food or water intake, and death.
People who suspect that their birds have avian influenza should contact a veterinarian or their nearest CFIA Animal Health Office.