WINNIPEG, Manitoba (Reuters) - The Canadian government has confirmed a case of avian influenza on a Manitoba turkey farm, but officials said on Wednesday they don’t believe it to be the deadly strain that has killed people in Asia.
“It’s highly unlikely it will be considered the Asian strain,” H5N1, said Dr. Wayne Lees, chief veterinary officer for the western province. That strain of the virus has never been detected in North America.
“The situation is well in hand,” he said.
There is no evidence of human illness related to the virus, said Dr. Joel Kettner, Manitoba’s chief public health officer.
The H5N1 avian flu, not to be confused with the H1N1 flu pandemic, has killed people in China, Egypt, Indonesia and Vietnam.
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has placed the farm under quarantine and is attempting to track recent movements of birds and equipment on and off the farm, said spokesman Guy Gravelle, adding that the case does not necessarily present a food safety risk.
Canada believes the strain is similar to a low-pathogenic strain found in British Columbia last year, which resulted in the slaughter of 60,000 turkeys and 12,000 chickens, said Dr. Sandra Stephens, the CFIA’s veterinary program specialist in foreign animal diseases.
Most of Canada’s poultry sector operates under a system of managed supply and prices, however some Manitoba turkeys are exported, Lees said.
The case may have implications for those exports, but Lees said he expects any restrictions by other countries would be short-lived.
The flu came to light when the farmer notified a veterinarian of a drop in egg production. The farm’s eggs are intended for a hatchery, not the food supply, Lees said.
Reporting by Rod Nickel; editing by Peter Galloway