One commercial poultry farm in the District of Kent is one of 21 B.C. farms hit with avian influenza.
As of Nov. 22, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) detected highly pathogenic avian influenza on a farm east of Agassiz.
According to the ministry of Agriculture and Food, the risk for avian influenza increases every spring and fall with the migration of waterfowl and other wild birds through B.C.
The outbreak in B.C. is associated with a larger outbreak throughout North America, including nine Canadian provinces.W Most known avian influenza viruses are low pathogenic and typically cause little to no signs of illness in infected birds. The highly pathogenic variants, such as the one detected east of Agassiz and throughout the Fraser Valley, can cause severe illness and death in birds.
In addition to contamination via wild birds, the virus spreads through contaminated manure, litter, clothing, equipment, feed and water.
There is no treatment for birds with avian influenza. However, vaccination can play a role in reducing the spread. The CFIA incorporates several measures in their fight against the disease, including the destruction of infected and exposed animals, strict quarantine and zoning to define infected and disease-free areas. Owners whose animals are ordered to be destroyed may be eligible for compensation.
Some signs of avian flu in birds include a drop in egg production, swelling of skin under the eyes, diarrhea and quietness or extreme depression. The incubation period is typically two to 14 days. Lab testing is needed to confirm the presence of the virus, which can be done through local veterinarians or provincial veterinary labs.
There is no evidence to suggest eating cooked poultry or eggs could transmit avian influenza to humans.
As of Monday, Nov. 28, there are 38 infected premises in the province affected by avian influenza. This affects 428,600 birds.
The Wild Bird Mortality Investigation Program hotline, 1-866-431-2473, accepts public reports of dead wild birds.
– With files from Jessica Peters