Birds tested for avian influenza in Western Canada

Fri Jan 23, 2009 4:10pm EST
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VANCOUVER, British Columbia (Reuters) - Canadian authorities investigated a possible outbreak of avian influenza in British Columbia on Friday after signs of the disease were found in several turkeys.

A precautionary quarantine was placed on poultry farms within 3 km (2 miles) of a farm east of Vancouver while tests are conducted to determine if the birds have the disease, a spokeswoman for the Canada Food Inspection Agency said.

"We have not confirmed anything. We're still awaiting the test results," Monika Mazur said.

The initial test results could be ready by late Friday, although it could be a couple more days before all the results are known, Mazur said.

The testing was conducted after the turkey farm discovered respiratory illnesses in its flock.

The farm is in the Fraser River valley, an area where most of British Columbia's poultry production is located. The area has had outbreaks of bird flu before, the largest of which required several million birds to be culled in 2004.

Nearly all poultry raised in the area is produced for the local domestic market.

(Reporting Allan Dowd, editing by Rob Wilson)