Bird flu in Canada – 04/05/2004

  • September 30, 2013 at 7:03 pm #439
    By Gilbert Le Gras

    OTTAWA (Reuters) – Canada said on Monday it would slaughter some 19
    million chickens, turkeys and other poultry in British Columbia’s
    Fraser Valley to halt the spread of bird flu.

    “It is becoming clear that the rapid spread of the virus requires
    much more aggressive action to minimize its additional spread,”
    Agriculture Minister Bob Speller told reporters. He said he was
    working on a compensation package for farmers.

    “The depopulation effort will take some time… I am optimistic,
    though, that this new measure will be effective in stopping the
    spread of the virus,” Speller said.

    Avian influenza has been diagnosed on 18 poultry farms in the Fraser
    Valley east of Vancouver and officials said the cull would cover 15
    million chickens on about 600 farms.

    Although the strain of the virus does not cause serious illness in
    humans — two farm workers suffered mild illnesses that doctors
    believe were contracted from the birds — one health official said
    last week the government wants to eradicate it before it mutates into
    a more serious strain.

    The first Canadian farm with the bird flu had a low pathogenic virus
    but officials said it mutated into a highly pathogenic one within two

    “Had we known the highly pathogenic nature of the virus immediately,
    I suspect the situation now would be completely different,” Canadian
    Food Inspection Agency animal health expert Jim Clarke said.

    An outbreak of a different strain of the highly contagious virus in
    Asia has caused at least 24 deaths and prompted the slaughter of tens
    of millions of fowl.

    British Columbia’s government estimates its poultry sector is worth
    over C$300 million ($230 million) at the farm gate.

    “The people in this area will likely be out of production for a
    minimum of half a year,” said Mike Dungate, general manager of the
    Chicken Farmers of Canada lobby group.

    The European Union (news – web sites) last week eased a blanket ban
    on Canadian poultry imports imposed after the first cases of avian
    flu were discovered. British Columbia is a minor exporter to the
    world market, well behind Quebec and Ontario.

    Some 84 percent of the province’s poultry output is in the Fraser
    Valley, in southwestern British Columbia.

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