Southern Ontario poultry farmers on high alert over bird flu cases
Poultry farmers in Waterloo Region and across southern Ontario are on alert, after two cases of H5N1 avian influenza were detected this week.
The locations of the farms have not been released, but it’s believed one is in Waterloo Region and the other in the London area.
According to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, the premises have been placed in quarantine and a bio security control zone has been established within a 10 kilometre radius.
Industry leaders say everyone is on high alert.
“All producers are very aware of this; everyone will be very careful about who goes on their property, what is going on around that; certainly all producers will be very vigilant,” said Brian Ricker, chairman of the Turkey Farmers of Ontario.
The H5N1 virus is present in Atlantic Canada, several American states and in Europe.
Shayan Sharif, a professor at the Ontario Veterinary College in Guelph, says the impact has been severe south of the border.
“So far in the U.S., approximately 14 to 15 million birds have been culled, they’ve been destroyed” said Sharif.
The H5N1 strain is not common in humans, and industry leaders say it’s very unlikely that infected product will make it to market. They say even if it does, proper cooking will kill the virus.
“The temperature that’s required to kill avian influenza is lower than it is to kill salmonella so if you’re cooking your chicken and eggs properly it’s not a food safety issue,” said Lisa Bishop-Spencer, Director of Communications for the Chicken Farmers of Canada.
FULL STATEMENT FROM CFIA
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) confirmed two cases of highly pathogenic avian influenza (AI), subtype H5N1, in two separate poultry flocks in southern Ontario this week.
To control any potential spread of the disease, the CFIA has placed the premises under quarantine and is establishing movement control measures and recommending enhanced biosecurity for other farms within a ten-kilometre radius. AI is spreading in wild bird populations across the globe and presents a significant national concern as birds migrate to Canada. The CFIA continues to remind anyone with poultry or other susceptible birds to practice good biosecurity habits to protect them from infectious animal diseases.
This is not the first time AI has been detected in Canada; the last confirmed cases were in February and March 2022 in Nova Scotia, and January 2022 and December 2021 in Newfoundland and Labrador, which were contained. AI occurs worldwide, with cases confirmed so far this year in Canada, the United States, and throughout Asia and Europe.
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency is working to eliminate and prevent the spread of highly pathogenic avian influenza in poultry while minimizing the impact of the disease on Canadians. This work includes:
- Quarantining implicated premises to prevent disease spread;
- Negotiating with key trading partners to recognize control zones to minimize the impact of trade disruptions;
- Actively engaging with industry, provincial governments, and Indigenous partners on the response and recovery actions;
- Reminding poultry owners to protect their flocks with biosecurity measures and reporting any signs of illness; and
- Imposing strict requirements on the import of animals and animal products from countries where avian influenza is known to exist.
Prevention of the spread of AI is best achieved through strict biosecurity measures designed to protect poultry flocks from AI and other common poultry diseases. All individuals with poultry should ensure that biosecurity measures are in place to protect their own susceptible species. Poultry owners can practice good biosecurity by taking the following precautions:
- Prevent wild birds from coming in contact with poultry, as well as with their food and water
- Maintain strict control over access to poultry houses, limiting access to people who must be there
- Require that all persons who enter the site where poultry are held disinfect their footwear, wash their hands and wear clean clothing
- Make sure that equipment is cleaned and disinfected before taking it into poultry houses
- Avoid having bird feeders and duck ponds close to poultry barns because they attract wild birds
- Maintain high sanitation standards
More resources are available on CFIA’s website for producers and owners of backyard flocks and pet birds:
- 5 rules to prevent and detect disease in backyard flocks and pet birds
- Protect your flock from bird flu
- General producer guide – National avian on-farm biosecurity standard
- National avian on-farm biosecurity standard
The CFIA is collaborating closely with provincial and Indigenous partners, as well as industry stakeholders and trading partners to eliminate the disease, prevent further spread and minimize the impact on trade.
The steps involved in an AI response normally include the following:
- movement restrictions and controls e.g., quarantines, permits;
- sample submission;
- destruction and disposal; and
- cleaning and disinfection.