Canada suspects avian flu outbreak; H5N1 hits more Bangladeshi farms

Jan 23, 2009 (CIDRAP News) – Canadian officials are investigating the possibility of an avian influenza outbreak at a turkey farm in British Columbia (BC), a day after animal health officials in Bangladesh reported the H5N1 virus struck three more sites.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) imposed a 3-km quarantine around a turkey producer in Abbotsford where avian influenza antibodies were found in some 12-week-old birds, the Canadian Press (CP) reported today. Calvin Bruekelman, spokesman for the BC Poultry Association, told the CP that the farm has 50,000 turkeys

Monika Mazur, a spokeswoman for the CFIA, told the CP today that initial testing performed at a laboratory in BC suggest an H5 virus, but further testing is under way at the CFIA's facility in Winnipeg to determine the strain.

Ray Nickel, the poultry association's president, speculated that the strain might be low-pathogenic, because of the low mortality seen among the birds at the farm, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation reported today.

The area of southwestern BC where the farm is located, called Fraser River Valley, experienced a large outbreak of highly pathogenic H7N3 avian influenza in March 2004, which affected as many as 40 commercial farms and led to the culling of 17 million birds, according to previous reports.

Elsewhere, veterinary officials in Bangladesh yesterday reported three more H5N1 outbreaks, including a commercial farm near the country's capital, Dhaka, according to a report from the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE).

The outbreak on the farm near Dhaka started Jan 7 and killed 112 of 5,341 poultry, the OIE report said. The remaining birds were culled to control the spread of the virus.

Authorities reported another outbreak that began on Jan 11 and struck backyard birds in a village in Rajshahi division in the northwestern part of the country near the border with India, killing 11 of 736 susceptible birds, the OIE reported. Animal health workers destroyed the rest of the flock.

Another outbreak at a commercial poultry farm, this time in Chittagong division in the southernmost area of Bangladesh, began on Jan 15, killing 80 of 1,800 birds, the OIE report said. The remaining birds were destroyed.

Bangladesh has had several outbreaks since October, when the virus reemerged in late September 2008 after a 4-month lull. Two states in western India that share borders with Bangladesh—Assam and West Bengal—have also battled recent H5N1 outbreaks.

See also:

Apr 5, 2004, CIDRAP News story "Canada to kill 19 million poultry to stop avian flu"

Jan 22 OIE report

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