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Avian influenza control zone set up in Ontario

By Aidan Fortune , 13-Jul-2016

Ontario, Canada, has been hit with bird flu before when the H5N2 strain struck in April 2015
Ontario, Canada, has been hit with bird flu before when the H5N2 strain struck in April 2015

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has established an Avian Influenza Control Zone in Ontario to control the movement of animals, products and equipment to minimise spread of the disease.

The boundary of the Avian Influenza Control Zone covers a 3km radius from the single premises confirmed to be infected with avian influenza earlier this month, located near St Catharines, Ontario.

All premises located within this zone will be placed under quarantine despite only the initial infected premises being confirmed positive for avian influenza. The CFIA is monitoring all premises within the control zone for any signs of disease.

Canada has been considered free of Avian Notifiable Disease since October 2015. However, Ontario has been impacted by avian influenza before, with three commercial premises in the province testing positive for H5N2 HPAI in April 2015.

No food safety risk

According to the disease report, this latest outbreak is a LPAI virus with H5 sequence closely related to the North American wild bird origin H5 LPAI viruses, suggesting this outbreak may simply be incursion from local wild waterfowl or indirect transmission via contaminated equipment, water, feed or bedding of the North American LPAI strain.

The CFIA added that the measures were standard for the situation. “The Avian Influenza Control Zone is part of an internationally accepted practice to allow trade to continue from non-infected areas of a country. We continue to work very closely with industry and our international partners as this situation develops.

Avian influenza does not pose a risk to food safety when poultry and poultry products are properly handled and cooked. Avian influenza rarely affects humans that do not have consistent contact with infected birds.

Poultry farmers are reminded to practise a high level of biosecurity to reduce the risk of disease spread, and report any suspicious symptoms in their flocks to the CFIA.

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