Bird flu found on second Western Canadian farm

Wed Feb 11, 2009 6:02pm EST
 
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VANCOUVER, British Columbia (Reuters) - Avian influenza has been found on a second poultry farm in British Columbia, but it appears to be the same less-virulent strain as found on a farm last month, officials said on Wednesday.

The virus was found on a farm within the 3 km (2 mile) quarantine and testing zone that was set up around a turkey farm in Abbotsford, where the disease was first detected, the Canada Food Inspection Agency said.

The case poses little if any threat to human health, officials said.

Initial testing indicated the virus is H5 avian influenza but more testing will be needed to determine the exact strain. The first case involved H5N2, a low-pathogenic strain of the disease.

"Tests to date indicate that the strain of avian influenza on the new premises is also low pathogenic and similar to the original strain identified on the index premises," the agency said in a statement.

Forty-three poultry farms in the Fraser Valley east of Vancouver have been placed under quarantine for testing because of the discovery.

Twelve thousand breeding chickens on the latest farm will have to be destroyed because of the virus. Last month's discovery of the virus led to the destruction of 60,000 turkeys.

CFIA said it is not known yet how the birds at the second farm became infected and they are not aware of any connection between the two farms.

"So it is quite likely this is an independent introduction of a virus into the barn," said Sandra Stevens, a CFIA disease control expert.

The cause of the first outbreak has also not been determined, but experts have speculated the commercial birds contracted the virus from wild birds that frequent the area.

(Reporting Allan Dowd, editing by Rob Wilson)