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Two farms in Oxford County now confirmed with Avian Flu

Following the sudden death of chickens at an Oxford County farm, preliminary tests have confirmed the H5 avian flu at a second location.

The farm, which has been placed under quarantine to control disease spread, is a breeder of broiler chickens.

While its location has not been disclosed, authorities said it is located outside of the existing Avian flu control zone of 29 Woodstock-area farms, put in place following the discovery of H5 virus at a turkey farm.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) said initial tests were conducted on April 17 at a University of Guelph lab.

“This finding is not entirely unexpected,” said Dr. Abed Harchaoui, senior staff veterinarian for the CFIA during a briefing on Sunday.

“While we cannot definitively state how the affected birds were exposed to the virus, avian influenza strains circulate in migratory wild birds and waterfowl, which pose a risk for spreading the disease.”

All the 27,000 chickens will be humanely destroyed and disposed of in accordance with provincial and international regulations.

Approximately 45,000 turkeys either died or were euthanized to stop the disease from spreading, after the deadly strain of avian flu was discovered at the first farm in early April.

At the second farm tests are currently underway to confirm pathogenicity or the severity of illness in the birds.

They will also test to determine the precise subtype and strain of the virus.

The CFIA said they will ensure the quarantine of the infected farm, and determine a surrounding surveillance zone for further testing and movement control measures.

“We continue to urge poultry farmers to report any suspicious symptoms to the CFIA and to be extra vigilant in their biosecurity measures, including efforts to minimize opportunities for wild birds to come in contact with their poultry,” Harchaoui said.

Once the birds are removed from the farm, the CFIA will oversee the cleaning and disinfection of the barns, vehicles, equipment and tools.

The virus is believed to be the same strain that triggered avian outbreaks in British Columbia and the US last year.

Avian flu rarely affects humans who are not in contact with the birds and does not pose a risk when the meat is properly cooked.

Meanwhile Harchaoui said the province will continue to “work closely with our international partners as this situation develops.”

“We remain committed to sharing information with our trading partners and responding to their questions in order to minimize the impact on trade,” he said.


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