Canada lifts avian influenza restrictions in B.C.

by Bryan Salvage
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OTTAWA, ONTARIO — All remaining quarantines on birds and bird products in southern British Columbia have been lifted by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency as a result of health officials finding no additional cases of avian influenza during testing in the area.

Following the discovery of low pathogenicity H5N2 avian influenza in a commercial poultry operation on Jan. 24, 2009, the movement restrictions were put in place. During the investigation, the C.F.I.A. declared a second operation infected on Feb. 11. Authorities said all birds on the two farms were humanely destroyed and composted on-site in accordance with international standards and provincial environmental requirements.

"The fact that this outbreak was quickly contained and eliminated clearly demonstrates why Canada's animal-health system is among the best in the world," said Gerry Ritz, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food. "The cooperation of affected bird owners, industry and our provincial and municipal partners played a key role in the success of our response."

Infected farms had to remain under C.F.I.A. surveillance for 21 days following the cleaning and disinfecting of barns, vehicles and equipment. Both farms have passed this 21-day period and as a result can now introduce new birds onto the property and resume regular operation.

"The coordinated efforts of all levels of government provided an unprecedented response to this outbreak," said Ron Cantelon, B.C. Minister of Agriculture and Lands. "By working together, we were able to minimize the impact to industry and get those affected back into business as quickly as possible."

C.F.I.A. will conduct broader testing of poultry operations in B.C. as a final step in the outbreak response. Consistent with the guidelines of the World Organization for Animal Health, this surveillance will allow Canada to regain its status as an avian influenza-free country.

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