H5 Avian Flu Confirmed in Ontario Turkey Flock


Update — 4pm EDT April 7th: The CFIA placed another six neighbouring farms under quarantine on Tuesday for precautionary measures (these farms had not reported sudden mortalities or other signs of avian influenza.) The infected barn housed 12,000 turkeys, of which 7,500 have died. The CFIA says the remaining birds will be euthanized on Wednesday. Meanwhile, Taiwan and Japan have implemented restrictions on imports of poultry and poultry products from Ontario. The National Centre for Foreign Animal Disease in Winnipeg has not yet finished testing to determine the N subtype of this H5 virus. The results, which would indicate whether this is the same virus found in the U.S., are still expected “in the coming days.”

A commercial turkey flock in southwestern Ontario has tested positive for a highly pathogenic H5 avian influenza virus.

“Preliminary testing by the Animal Health Lab at University of Guelph has confirmed the presence of a highly pathogenic H5 avian influenza in a commercial turkey flock west of Woodstock in Oxford County,” said an advisory issued by the Feather Board Command Centre (FBCC) on Monday. The FBCC is an emergency response collaboration between Ontario’s four poultry organizations: Chicken Farmers of Ontario, Egg Farmers of Ontario, Ontario Broiler Hatching Egg and Chick Commission, and Turkey Farmers of Ontario.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency confirmed the finding late Monday, noting the farm and a neighbouring farm have both been placed under quarantine.

It’s not yet known whether this is the H5N2 strain recently found in the U.S. Midwest; the CFIA says testing is underway to determine the precise subtype and strain of the virus. Results are expected within days.

The initial tests were conducted at the University of Guelph on April 5th, after the flock experienced sudden deaths over several days.

A heightened biosecurity advisory has been issued to all commercial producers and small flock growers in a 10 kilometre area around the farm. In addition to ensuring strict biosecurity, all Ontario producers are being asked by the FBCC to monitor mortalities and to track feed and water consumption.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has restricted imports of birds and poultry products from 10 U.S. states where the H5N2 virus has been found: Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, South Dakota, Arkansas, Kansas, as well as California, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington. The latest two cases were publicly confirmed in Minnesota on Monday, bringing the total in the state to seven.

Outbreaks of H5N2 in commercial poultry flocks occurred in the Pacific flyway in late 2014, including in British Columbia and in the aforementioned states located along the West Coast. The first case in the Mississippi flyway was confirmed in Minnesota in early March. This wild bird migration route includes northwestern and southwestern Ontario, Manitoba, and northwestern Quebec.

*Updated at 7:45pm EDT April 6th with new information from the CFIA.

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