CFIA confirms AI in southern Ontario

by Erica Shaffer
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OTTAWA, Ontario – The presence of low pathogenic H5 avian influenza was confirmed on a duck farm near St. Catharines, Ontario, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) reported. Additional tests are underway to confirm the precise subtype and strain of the virus.

CFIA placed the farm under quarantine to contain the disease. Meanwhile, the agency plans to create a surveillance zone in which to conduct further testing and movement control measures. All birds on the premises will be culled, CFIA said.

“Once all birds have been removed, the CFIA will oversee the cleaning and disinfection of the barns, vehicles, equipment and tools to eliminate any infectious material that may remain,” the agency said in a statement.

CFIA reminded consumers that avian influenza is not a food safety risk when poultry is properly handled and cooked, and the virus rarely affects humans.

In 2015, an outbreak of highly pathogenic H5N2 avian influenza occurred in Ontario. From April to July, CFIA and its partner agencies worked to minimize the spread of the disease. On July 29, CFIA removed the final avian influenza control zone, and on Oct. 8 Canada declared Ontario free of notifiable avian influenza.

“The CFIA, the Province of Ontario, the owner of the infected birds, and the poultry industry are working closely together to manage the situation,” the agency said. “Both levels of government will work with the poultry industry to address issues as they emerge.”

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